Protest Movements Growing in Sophistication and Effectiveness

Kevin Zeese & Margaret Flowers  |  PopularResistance.org

In the last few months multiple groups of people have been discussing how to escalate, link issues and build the protest movement’s power even more. We have heard the same conversation in different circles multiple times. We have seen this before and know it means another big wave is coming. We want to alert you to it because to make it as impactful as possible, we all need to be prepared to do all we can. People across the country should be asking their friends and colleagues: what can we do to grow the movement for transformative change?

In this week’s newsletter, we are going to report on recent actions that show the movement getting more sophisticated, effective and organized. Before we do so, we want to let you know about a new tool that could be very helpful in building your actions and making them more effective.

Action Switchboard: The Kickstarter + For Activists

The Yes Lab, which grew out of the creativity of the Yes Men, has developed a new tool that can be used to lift the work of all activists. They call it Action Switchboard and it allows you to post an action or campaign, which they call a Scheme, to the site so others can see it and provide whatever help you need. Action Switchboard is not a single issue tool but can be used to fight climate change, extreme energy extraction, racist policing, banking abuse, militarism – really every major economic, social and environmental issue we are confronting.

Action Switchboard

We really want to encourage you to use Action Switchboard. It is a tool that can lift your actions to a higher level.  When you post a Scheme to Action Switchboard you can tell people what you need: skills, resources or funding. People can offer support or sign up to follow your Scheme and get updates so they can participate when they are needed.  You can also create an internal group that can communicate in private.

Beyond these normal functions, they provide additional help when requested. For the last 15 years the Yes Men have developed a list of people who are activists with particular skills. This means if you need a certain type of skill, e.g. videographer, banner maker, PR person, in a particular part of the country they may have someone on their list who can help.

The Action Switchboard also has a page they call The Cookbook that helps you design your scheme from the initial brainstorming to its final success.

Check out Action Switchboard and start to use it.

Actions Demonstrating Our Increasing Capacity

Just in the last week there have been a variety of areas where we are seeing an escalation of the sophistication and effectiveness of direct actions campaigns. We review a few here that we can all learn from and that provide inspiration.

The Anti-Fracking Campaign in New York: Governor Andrew Cuomo banned fracking in New York this week. This would not have happened without the ongoing, multi-year campaign against fracking by New Yorkers Against Fracking and others, as well as the current campaign of We Are Seneca Lake. Commentators on the Cuomo decision described the campaign as “unrelenting” and “focused on Cuomo” and how they brought the research and science together with public pressure.

A key feature of this campaign was that it was ongoing. The campaign built over a six year period. Even on the day that Cuomo announced the ban, activists were preparing to protest the announcement they expected – pilot fracking projects in several parts of the state. Instead, they got a tremendous victory, which reminds us that we never know how close we are to success.

The campaign built a strong base of support that included residents who would be directly impacted by fracking, communities that voted to ban fracking and scientists and health experts who could factually explain why fracking was bad for New York. Cuomo was joined by governments in Quebec and New Brunswick in rejecting fracking this week. The tide is turning for anti-fracking campaigns. Let’s build on these successes and stop fracking throughout the country.

The Multi-State Coordinated Actions Against Pipelines:  Last week four states joined together to protested a pipeline that would go through New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The protests seek to stop the Algonquin Pipeline Extension and involves 14 organization. They called it “A Week of Respect and Resistance to Stop the Spectra Pipeline.” The week produced some great individual events and lots of phone calls and other contacts to elected officials.

We hope this kind of coordination between groups and across states continues. Even coordination intra-state is effective. A campaign in Massachusetts against a Kinder Morgan pipeline was successful in forcing them to re-route the pipeline. Now the campaign needs to block Kinder Morgan in New Hampshire. The Massachusetts campaign included a rolling protest from town to town ending in the Boston Common.

Protests Against Police Abuse: There have been many outstanding protests against police abuse after the grand jury decisions in Ferguson and Staten Island. We wrote about some of these protests in a recent newsletter highlighting the ability of mobilized people to shut down business as usual. Worth noting has been the significant leadership by women in these protests; indeed it was female leaders who took the stage from Al Sharpton’s DC rally demanding to be heard. This was an important protest of new black leadership separating itself from the inside-the-Democratic Party misleadership.

Police Protests

Across the street from the police station banners making key points and showing images of those killed by the police. Source Wild Tiger.


This week we were particularly impressed by a well-organized protest in Oakland that shut down the police headquarters for 4 hours and 28 minutes. Four hours for the time Mike Brown was left in the street, and 28 minutes because every 28 hours in the US a Black person is killed by police, military, security or vigilantes.  The protest was led by African American groups and supported by Asian and White groups. It featured large banners, climbing a flag pole to fly a flag of people killed by police, blockades of roadways and entrances and powerful chants making clear political points. The groups working together showed exceptional solidarity and coordination. This is definitely an event others can learn from.

Another important aspect of the police abuse and racism protests is their ongoing nature. Protests are being planned for January around Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday and weekly Justice Monday protests are planned at the US Department of Justice.

Immediate Reaction To Denial Of Universal Healthcare in Vermont: We were very pleased to see the immediate reaction from the grassroots to Governor Shumlin’s announcement that he would not be going forward with the universal healthcare plan in Vermont. (Note: We do not call this single payer because it was always a less efficient and more costly multi-payer system.)  The Vermont Workers who were the grassroots support for the push to provide healthcare to all in Vermont, immediately responded to Shumlin’s announcement. The next day they were at the State House protesting outside and inside. They called it a “Shame On Shumlin” protest and went to his office to tell him “Your career is toast.”

We’ve always been impressed by the grassroots organizing of Vermont Workers. It was important for Shumlin to immediately hear the unforgiving voice of people who had been promised that their human right to healthcare would be recognized. Politicians who do not fulfill their promises need to be held accountable and told that their decision will impact their career. Shumlin has also seen protests over pipelines in Vermont.

Ensuring the Future of an Internet For All: In a previous newsletter we reviewed the campaign to save the Internet. Popular Resistance was part of this campaign along with Internet advocacy groups. The coalition has been able to make the politically impossible inevitable – reclassifying the Internet as a common carrier under Title II of the Federal Communications Act. Reclassification is essential to putting in place net neutrality rules as the courts have said, without reclassification the FCC does not have the authority to prevent a tiered Internet based on fees and equal access for all through net neutrality.  We have not won yet so sign up to stay involved in this campaign to bring it to its ultimate successful conclusion.

Foundation to Build On

Here are important lessons we can learn from each other:

The importance of solidarity: we need to work across geographic areas, coordinate nationally, work across issues and unite despite differences in race, age, sex and class. We are stronger when we are united.

Ongoing campaigns build our power: Change is not going to come from one event; it takes a series of events that are part of a campaign. Campaigns allow us to build and create power among mobilized people.

Linking street action with the facts: The facts are on our side on every issue we are working on but the facts alone are not enough. The people are also on our side, but they need to be mobilized. When we combine people power and the facts, we have the ingredients for success.

Hold people accountable, personalize protest: Those in elected office or other positions must be held accountable for their actions. By focusing on Governor Cuomo, the fracking campaign in New York put consistent pressure on him so wherever he went he knew there was opposition. Vermonters have started the process of holding Governor Shumlin accountable for not fulfilling his promise of universal healthcare – which is a basic human right. If they build this into a campaign, they can turn this decision around, or if necessary, elect a new governor who will ensure their healthcare needs are met.

Spectacle protests builds our movement: We are building a transformative mass movement. For every action we should keep in mind that the goal is to draw more people to the movement, show them that what we stand for will benefit them and their families as well as highlight the failures of current policy. People need to know that there are others working for positive change and if we join together we can win.

In recent years, the movement for social, economic and environmental justice has built a foundation on which to grow. We are hearing from activists on a variety of issues – police abuse, fracking, climate change, economic justice among them – that 2015 is a year to escalate. We are also hearing, consistently across all issues, people need to unite and recognize we are one movement of movements.

We are on the right path to shaping our own destinies, despite the deep corruption of dysfunctional government and an unfair economy. People mobilizing can build their power and shape the future.

For more coverage of people working on a wide range of issues including peace and justice, environmental protection, workers’ and students’ rights, and more, subscribe to the weekly review from PopularResistance.org

People Rise Up: The Streets Are Alive with the Sound of Movement

Randall Amster | Commondreams

Protesters on Dec. 5 in Boston.  (Photo: Tim Pierce/flickr/cc)

Protesters on Dec. 5 in Boston. (Photo: Tim Pierce/flickr/cc)

In an era rife with pop-culture trivialities juxtaposed with escalating calamities, we find ourselves at a remarkable moment that poses profound existential questions for the soul of the nation. Systems that have claimed the mantle of “justice” (while practicing little of it) are being exposed to an unprecedented level of scrutiny, demonstrating in stark terms that tragic episodes from Ferguson to New York are not exceptional but instead constitute the baseline norm of official behavior. The message is not that this system is broken, but rather that it is working exactly the way it was designed. The primary difference now is that people are paying attention.

To make sure that this moment of collective scrutiny doesn’t get lost in the woodwork of an attention-deficient culture, people have been taking to the streets and public places to remind us all of propositions that shouldn’t even have to be said, let alone agitated for, in a healthy society: #blacklivesmatter. Still, one is likely to hear the common retort that this emerging movement is incoherent, inconvenient, incomprehensible. “What do these people want, anyway?” utters a bystander. “I’ll run them over if they get in my way!” tweets another.“It’s terrible that they’re so violent,” laments many a liberal friend. The narrative of the mainstream response reads as a combination of confusion and contempt, simultaneously rapt and repulsed by the spectacle.

Most significantly, analytical consternation has focused more on the seemingly uncoordinated mayhem of the demonstrations than on the coordinated violence of the systems they oppose. The “flash mob” and “pop-up” protest ethos of today’s cutting-edge movements may be as confounding to the “old guard” of movements from a bygone era as they are to the entrenched powers. Still, if we go back a mere half century or so, for many Americans the appearance of a coordinated movement seeking an end to legalized discrimination in schools, transportation, and other places of public accommodation may have seemed like the beginning of a threatening revolution. Notwithstanding that this movement has been cast historically as more reformist than revolutionary in its aims and outcomes, in real-time the widely disseminated images of lunch counter sit-ins and street demonstrations were generally taken as radical in their implications.

The lessons we can take from this are instructive. Just as legislative brushstrokes were incapable of ending institutionalized racism in the nation, we can surmise that contemporary reforms such as police body cameras and civilian review boards will not sufficiently address the deep-seated issues being raised in the aftermath of the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases. More pointedly, today’s demonstrations ultimately are asking us to confront the realization that “business as usual” in itself is inherently unjust and reflective of a deeply rooted racial and socioeconomic caste order that persists despite decades of ostensible reforms—and that as long as this order remains intact, there in fact will be no business as usual.

In this sense, what is often taken as the American mythological “norm”—i.e., a level societal playing field defined by equal opportunity, mobility through merit, and justice for all—is undeniably inflected with our unchecked historical baggage and a set of unquestioned values that reflect the requisite power, property, and privilege of an entrenched ruling class consciousness. Those of us who are able to resemble that ruling cadre in certain manners, even superficially, can acquire some of the perquisites attendant to the elite strata—even as the reality is that we are not “them” at the end of the day. Those who lack the elite indicia or the capacity to emulate it sufficiently are left as little more than prey for profiteers, militarists, and wardens, with the double-edged construction of their identities as something to be feared by the elite emulators.

The police, oftentimes appearing as modern-day equivalents of the “palace guard,” are on the front lines of enforcing this racialized socioeconomic order. Somewhat ironically, many of them actually come from the “other side” of the line than the one they’ve been hired to defend; in fact, joining the force may be viewed by some as one of only a few available pathways to try and cross the class divide. This renders the trope of “police versus protesters” particularly problematic, but also suggests a point of leverage if that latent consciousness can be aroused within the ranks of the police themselves. Indeed, it is hard to envision a movement ultimately succeeding without police defections, or at least accommodations such as those voiced by a police chief in Tennessee last week: “In Nashville, if you want to come to a public forum and express your thoughts, even if they’re against the government, you’re going to get your First Amendment protection and you’re going to be treated fairly by the police officers involved.”

This characterization is complicated by another matter that is beginning to be unpacked in the public dialogue. The police are not merely modern-day Pinkertons hired by the bosses to maintain order in the company towns and terror among the workers to prevent them from organizing. Today, increasingly, they are also trained military alumni, having served tours in America’s imperialist wars (which can be viewed as the exported version of systemic violence), and oftentimes are armed with the vestiges of a bloated military-industrial complex that produces more implements of destruction than it could possibly use for its already anachronistic purposes. The police forces in many American cities function as a burgeoning occupying force that cuts a direct swath from Fallujah to Ferguson and all critical points of engagement in between.

We can choose to skirt around all of this and simply ask for a few cosmetic changes to business as usual, perhaps easing some of the more blatant atrocities for a time and even strengthening the mythological fabric of due process and equal treatment. The momentary rupture of traffic and commerce being disrupted [insert characterization here: by angry young people of color] will soon fade into the background with a Christmas-magic cutaway to a yule log and sparkling ornaments. “The system works after all, order is restored—and now back to our regularly scheduled programming…” will proclaim the voiceover reading the cue cards. The task for engaged viewers is to prevent the impending delivery of this colossal lump of holiday coal.

The pop-up protests in the streets right now present the best opportunity for us to collectively engage the difficult issues that most have chosen to ignore but that are coming home to roost. It serves no purpose to continue denying the convergence of the military-industrial complex, the school-to-prison pipeline, redlining and racial profiling, environmental (in)justice, and the rest of the architecture of a dysfunctional system. Indeed, the recent episodes that have brought people into the streets—typifying cases that have been happening every day for a very long time—almost read like an admission of injustice and the raw power to not even care about appearances: “Your cameras and chants and crowds mean nothing; soon enough, most people will resent the intrusions and long for us to restore the comforts and conveniences of their ordinary lives. Your moment of protest will be a minor hindrance at best, and you’ll be branded as the enemy in the process. In the end, our power will be further consolidated and your subjugation expanded.”

Speculative machinations aside, the history of social change counsels that we tread cautiously when broaching revolutionary demands—not to flinch away from making them, but more so to be clear about to whom they are being presented. The gained experiences of movement actors themselves can be inspiring and transformative, and in themselves are part of the measure of success any time people slip the bonds of conformity and take a stand for a better world. On the other side of the coin, entrenched elite interests are not likely to be persuaded to suddenly embrace the “arc of the moral universe” and abdicate their positions of power and privilege. In the middle is that vast pool of onlookers—sometimes horrified, sometimes amused, sometimes inclined to ignore the whole thing and just get about their lives. These are the folks whose consent is counted on to maintain the present order, and whose conversion a movement seeks.

In addressing those still somewhere between elite detachment and flash-mob radicalization, a few points of consideration might be helpful. First, an inherently unjust system inevitably catches all of us in its tentacles, over time becoming an equal opportunity exploiter; when some are not free none are truly free, since (as MLK said) “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Second, the top tier in society do not actually resemble the masses of people, superficial appearances notwithstanding; the gross economic disparity in America, in which the upper echelon controls the vast majority of wealth while the middle and bottom’s combined holdings are nearly negligible, tells a good deal of this story. Third, the emergence of a militarized controlling force (and its concomitant securitized clandestine apparatus) does not discriminate between “good” and “bad” people in its application, but only between those who are an inconvenience and those who can for the moment be tolerated. Fourth, ignoring the crises at hand, from constant cruelty to changing climate, will not keep them from your doorstep.

And to those looking for a condensable movement message, consider that the preferred method of organizing today—consonant with the tenor of the times—is the decentralized network rather than the top-down “central organization” model favored by more entrenched actors. While this may give today’s movements the look of being incoherent, it also more closely resembles the ways in which many of us increasingly meet the world and process information. The internet appears to us as a decentralized network (even as this masks a deeper form of centralization and authoritarianism), so it is unsurprising that those raised squarely under its ambit would replicate this ethos. But the tendency to “pop up” and “go viral” reveals a more subtle consciousness articulated by today’s movements, namely that the most effective response to systemic injustice is one that meets it wherever it is found and that uses its own conveyances to undo its worst aspects. In particular, these disruptions yield great impact (via the conduits of real-time dissemination) at the day-to-day level, where oppressive structures often operate unabashedly yet are unnoticed by the masses: spaces of consumption and transportation, the habitus of low-wage workers, neighborhoods beset by police violence and other deprivations, urban and rural spaces of environmental despoliation. In other words, in the ordinary course of our “business as usual.”

“No Justice, No Profit” isn’t merely a protest chant; it reflects an emerging sensibility that, in many respects, the appearance of justice at all is wholly incompatible with the drive for profit. As a nation, we have blithely ignored this for too long, having become “comfortably numb” (as the Pink Floyd song opines) in the process and failing to recognize that the struggles of oppressed people must become the struggles of all people if any of us are to flourish … or perhaps even survive. As Howard Zinn wrote four decades ago in another moment of upheaval:

“As soon as you say the topic is civil disobedience, you are saying our problem is civil disobedience. That is not our problem…. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is the numbers of people all over the world who have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience…. Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world, in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.”

Noncooperation with oppression and injustice is a crucial first step; the next one is perhaps even more challenging: articulating and manifesting a vision to strive toward. Sustaining a movement will require the creation of alternative institutions, new models of distribution and collective decision-making, spaces of both diversity and equality. In today’s parlance, we come to discover that the movement itself is part of this message, constituting both a means and an end. On the cusp of pivoting from protest to resistance, movements for justice can sustain by leveraging resistance into persistence, and ultimately prevail through persistence for the continuation of our very existence. Martin Luther King Jr. once spoke of the perils of “sleeping through a revolution.” Today, the alarm bells are ringing in town squares and city streets everywhere, urging everyone still holding out hope for a more just world to rise up and get busy making it.

Randall Amster, JD, PhD, is Director of the Program on Justice and Peace at Georgetown University, and serves as Executive Director of the Peace and Justice Studies Association. His recent books include Peace Ecology (Paradigm Publishers, 2014), Anarchism Today(Praeger, 2012), Lost in Space: The Criminalization, Globalization, and Urban Ecology of Homelessness; and the co-edited volumes  Exploring the Power of Nonviolence: Peace, Politics, and Practice (Syracuse University Press, 2013) and Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action.

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Systemic Injustice Condemned as Ferguson Galvanizes National Outrage

Jon Queally | Commondreams

Ferguson shootingPeople across the nation came out into the streets of the communities where they live on Tuesday night and gave expression to the collective outrage being felt in the wake of a grand jury decision in Ferguson, Missouri on Monday.

Speaking out against police violence and a long pattern of injustice that the shooting death of Michael Brown by officer Darren Wilson has come to symbolize, organized marches took places in dozens of Americans cities where people expressed their solidarity with the Brown family and the people of Ferguson while saying the issues of racism, police brutality, and a broken justice system is impacting millions of people on a daily basis in America.

On the streets of Ferguson on Tuesday and into Wednesday morning, protesters continue to challenge local riot police and National Guard soldiers called in by Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon. According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, forty-four people were arrested overnight.

In addition to numerous smaller cities and communities, rallies and protests were held in Cleveland, New York City, Los Angeles, Oakland, Boston, Chicago, Miami, Detroit, Atlanta, Washington, DC and other major cities.

As the Associated Press reports, “For many, the shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown by Officer Darren Wilson recalled other troubling encounters with law enforcement. The refrain ‘Hands up, don’t shoot’ became a rallying cry over police killings nationwide.”

Cleveland, Ohio: Protests break out in Cleveland over Tamir Rice shooting, Ferguson grand jury decision (Cleveland.com):

cleveland.jpgProtestors also weaved the deaths of Tamir Rice, Taneisha Anderson and John Crawford III as they shouted chants of “No Justice, No Peace” and “Hands up, don’t shoot.” (Photo: Cory Shaffer/Northeast Ohio Media Group)

Several hundred people marched down a freeway ramp to block rush-hour traffic while protesting the Missouri developments and Saturday’s fatal shooting by an officer of 12-year-old Tamir Rice of Cleveland, who had a pellet gun that looked like a real firearm.

“The system wasn’t made to protect us,” said one of the protesters, 17-year-old Naesha Pierce. “To get justice, the people themselves have to be justice.”

New York, New York: Thousands Protesting Ferguson Decision Block Traffic in New York City (NY Times):

new_york.jpgPeople protest in Times Square, New York. (Photo: Mike Segar/Reuters)

Thousands of protesters marched through the streets of New York City for the second night on Tuesday, chanting loudly and blocking traffic on some of Manhattan’s busiest streets to express outrage over the decision not to indict a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo., in the death of an unarmed black man.

The police said that some protesters had been arrested, though no figures were immediately available.

The protesters marched on Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive, through Times Square and across the Manhattan Bridge, disrupting traffic along those routes and at the Lincoln Tunnel.

One group of protesters tried to cross the Williamsburg Bridge to Brooklyn, but a wall of police stopped them, even as they tried to pull down a police barricade.

Atlanta, Georgia: Atlanta police arrest 21 Ferguson demonstrators (Atlanta Journal Constitution):

atlanta.jpgProtesters march the streets in Atlanta a day after the decision from a Missouri grand jury to not indict Ferguson, Missouri, officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of an unarmed teen. (Photo: Curtis Compton/AJC)

Chicago, Illinois: City Hall sit-in morphs into march along Michigan Avenue (Chicago Tribune):

chicago.jpgProtesters outside the mayor’s office on the 5th floor of City Hall on Nov. 25. (Photo: Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune)

Hundreds of protesters marched Tuesday night through Downtown, chanting and making speeches over a loudspeaker about Ferguson, Mo., and Michael Brown, after spending much of the day hunkered down outside Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office.

The march, much of which took place along and near Michigan Avenue, began after police ordered protesters around 6:30 p.m. to leave Emanuel’s fifth-floor office in City Hall, where they had been participating in a planned 28-hour sit-in. The protesters dispersed about 10 p.m., police said.

“We left because we believe, and we know that the arrest of black bodies is not to be taken lightly,” said Charlene Carruthers of Black Youth Project 100, which organized the sit-in. “This is just one day, and we want to live to fight another day.”

Oakland, California: Ferguson protesters storm freeways again, some vandalism seen (San Jose Mercury News):

oakland.jpgPolice officers in riot gear walk past a line of fire set up with trash on Telegraph Avenue during a protest in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014. a day after a Missouri grand jury decided not to indict white police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. (Photo: Ray Chavez/Bay Area News Group)

Miami, Florida: In Miami, a small but passionate protest over Ferguson shooting (Miami Herald):

miami.jpgDemonstrators gather in front of the Gerstein Justice Building in downtown Miami on Nov. 25, 2014 to protest the grand jury decision in Ferguson. (Photo:Patrick Farrell/Miami Herald staff)

Los Angeles, California: Police arrest dozens to end Ferguson protests in downtown L.A. (LA Times):

la.jpgProtesters raise their hands and sit to block traffic on the 110 Freeway in protest on November 25, 2014. (Photo: Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Detroit, Michigan: Detroit marchers arrested in Ferguson demonstrations (Detroit Free Press):

detroit_0.jpgProtesters began to march down Woodward Avenue in the street yelling, “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” during a rally in response to Missouri’s Grand Jury verdict to not indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. (Photo: Kimberly P. Mitchell/Detroit Free Press)

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Ferguson: Cover of Darkness, Rays of Light

Randall Amster | Commondreams

Photo: Light Brigading

Photo: Light Brigading

The announcement arrived at the telegraphed moment, conveniently scheduled for prime time in most zones. A decision said to shed light on a matter of national importance is revealed only after dark, with the lede buried under a pile of prosecutorial dereliction. When the decisive words are finally uttered, they echo with unintended irony as a broken system delivers its own self-indictment: “No True Bill.”

We’ve been here before, almost too many times to count. Anguish fills the air, slowly replaced by tear gas and smoke. Rage smolders from the friction of perpetual despair, finally igniting fires that engulf a mere handful of structures. People are urged to lodge their complaints but keep their place, to express their views but only from the sidelines, to follow the rule of law but relegate their quest for justice.
Is it at all surprising that an incendiary decision revealed under cover of darkness leads to flames of unrest? Can anyone envision a scenario where “no probable cause exists” sufficient to support an indictment if Michael Brown had shot and killed Darren Wilson? Is the normalization of a police apparatus increasingly indistinguishable from a military force merely seen as a cost of doing business?
These are some of the lingering questions to be grappled with in the days ahead. The details of the tragic encounter between Brown and Wilson will only tell us part of the story, and even if Wilson had been indicted it might have been at best a necessary but not sufficient step toward justice in America. The problems before us are thoroughly systemic, structurally embedded, and historically palpable.
The stain of slavery and genocide remains the nation’s unreconciled legacy, transmuted over the centuries into accepted social policy, playing out every day in panoptic fashion from schools and hospitals to prisons and malls. An ostensible “land of the free” with its wealth built through servitude, a body politic plagued by untreated -isms coursing through its veins with devastating ongoing effects.
There will be time in the days ahead to disentangle the true magnitude of the task. Yet the ray of light during a dark night in the country’s history is that the issues have been joined publicly and unwaveringly. Impoverishment, disempowerment, disenfranchisement, corruption, militarism, racism, hopelessness. The list goes on, and the intersectionality of that which ails us becomes apparent even amidst the haze.
Viewed from another angle, perhaps one that will come to define the legacy of Ferguson, pointed calls for peace are issued from a multitude of fronts, the President openly acknowledges that the roots of the problem run deep, and the mainstream media invoke phrases such as “nonviolent direct action” and “civil disobedience” in anticipation of a potential shift from immediate reaction to measured resistance.
Whatever transpires going forward, some things will not change. Michael Brown’s family will never have him back, representing a trauma that most parents can only begin to comprehend. A legal system incapable of obtaining an indictment against Darren Wilson winds up indicting itself in the process. Young people access the depths of their frustration, and many are radicalized for the struggles ahead.

The misnomer that is our “justice system” paradoxically touts its transparency in the opacity of nightfall. Yet as the smoke dissipates and the dust settles, the first cracks of daylight form on the horizon, announcing a new day at hand. A thing once seen cannot be unseen; a collective vision is not easily denied. The cover of darkness, once lifted, reveals a faint but steady light that points the way forward.

Randall Amster, JD, PhD, is Director of the Program on Justice and Peace at Georgetown University, and serves as Executive Director of the Peace and Justice Studies Association. His recent books include Peace Ecology (Paradigm Publishers, 2014), Anarchism Today(Praeger, 2012), Lost in Space: The Criminalization, Globalization, and Urban Ecology of Homelessness; and the co-edited volumes  Exploring the Power of Nonviolence: Peace, Politics, and Practice (Syracuse University Press, 2013) and Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action.

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Ferguson and the ‘Us vs. Them’ Illusion

Demonstrators in Oakland, California held up mirrors to crowd-control officers during a protest against police brutality earlier this year. (Photo: Twitter)

Demonstrators in Oakland, California held up mirrors to crowd-control officers during a protest against police brutality earlier this year. (Photo: Twitter)

As the grand jury’s decision on whether nor not to indict Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson loomed, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon told a TV reporter “he’s preparing for peace and war.”

What the governor did, in the tense uncertainty preceding the decision, was pre-declare a state of emergency and activate the Missouri National Guard to help contain the possibility of violent, anti-police protests. He also appointed 16 people, including several of the protesters, to a newly created “Ferguson Commission” to recommend solutions to the racial problems plaguing that community, which the killing of Michael Brown last August made unavoidably apparent.

Meanwhile, gun sales at local shops are through the roof and the local Klan is stirring, distributing fliers warning protesters that they’ve awakened a sleeping giant.

America, America . . .

Before we proceed further, let’s stir in a little Einstein: “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.”

“The possibility of who we can become — a healed, connected people, an invaluable force for global salvation — is worth our endless effort to realize.”

That level of thinking — the political, governmental and media consensus of who we are — is blind and deaf to history and locked into us-vs.-them thinking. Security, whether domestic or international, is a game played against presumed and, often enough, imagined enemies. Thus, prior to the governor’s decision to call out the Guard, the FBI had issued an intelligence bulletin warning local officials that “the announcement of the grand jury’s decision … will likely be exploited by some individuals to justify threats and attacks against law enforcement and critical infrastructure,” according to the Washington Post.

If nothing else, this sort of consciousness remains utterly unaware of its own contribution to the trouble. As law enforcement ups its level of militarized authoritarianism, it agitates the elements predisposed to regard it as the enemy and seek its humiliation and defeat. This is a small segment of the protesters, but no matter. Preparing for war requires, first of all, an oversimplification of the social context in which the preparers operate. Once this is accomplished, the warnings become self-fulfilling prophecies.

In other words, what matters is that there’s an “enemy” out there. The preparation essentially creates the enemy, especially when the power imbalance is enormous, e.g.: federal, state and local government, plus maybe half the general population, vs. distraught, impoverished community residents.

What doesn’t matter is that the protesters want profound, nonviolent change, not an excuse to trash local convenience stores. For instance, the Don’t Shoot Coalition, which formed in the wake of Michael Brown’s shooting and has coordinated protest efforts since then, recently issued 19 “rules of engagement” in anticipation of the grand jury verdict. Rule no. 1: “The first priority shall be preservation of human life.”

Other rules include: “Every attempt should be made to communicate with protesters to reach ‘common sense’ agreements based on these protocols, both ahead of time and at the scene of protests.”

And: “Police rank and file will be instructed to provide every latitude to allow for free assembly and expression, treating protesters as citizens and not ‘enemy combatants.’”

At the very least, what we do not need, in the wake of the terrible wrong of an 18-year-old’s killing, is a dismissive oversimplification of the community’s reaction to it. On the other side of the issue, we need infinitely more than an indictment and, ultimately, conviction and punishment of the police officer who did it. That is to say, what matters here is not the fixing of personal blame (or lack thereof), but the acknowledgment of systemic and historic wrong of monumental proportions and — at long, long last — a momentum of social healing that doesn’t end prematurely.

The United States of America is a nation founded on slavery and the conquest and slaughter of the indigenous peoples in its way. It’s also a democracy, sort of — originally for white, male property owners — which, over two-plus centuries, has expanded its recognition of who qualifies as a human being and who, thus, can be a full participant in the political process. The country’s sense of exceptionalism exceeds, by a wide margin, the good it has brought into the world.

Oh well. That’s no excuse to quit trying. The possibility of who we can become — a healed, connected people, an invaluable force for global salvation — is worth our endless effort to realize. And maybe the Ferguson Commission has more than a perfunctory contribution to make to such an achievement.

What I know is that we cannot define our social brokenness in terms of good guys and bad guys, which is always so tempting. Alexis Madrigal, writing last August in The Atlantic about UCLA’s Center of Policing Equity, which has investigated police behavior and racial disparity in dozens of police departments in the U.S., made an interesting observation to that end:

“When staffers from the Center of Policing Equity go into a police department, they talk with community advocates, police officers, and the people of the city—all of whom provide important information about law enforcement behaviors. What they find is communities who have for generations felt like they’re not being policed but occupied. And yet, at the same time, they find the ‘vast majority’ of police officers and executives trying to do the right thing.”

The “level of thinking” that has caused immeasurable harm within and beyond our national borders — that killed Michael Brown — begins with a conviction that the enemy is out there, waiting to get us. If we had the courage to look beyond this fear, what we would see, perhaps, is not an enemy but someone almost indistinguishable from ourselves.

Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His new book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound is now available. Contact him at koehlercw@gmail.com or visit his website at commonwonders.com.

Breaking free from the Reality Distortion and the Art of Individual Power

Are the masses of humanity still having a love affair with the Matrix?  If so, the time has come to break up!

breaking glassIf there is one thing that the now classic movie The Matrix illustrates, it is the blatancy of a template reality.  Though offered under the guise of fantasy, this depiction caused curious and suspecting individuals to question the very existence that many still blindly accept, and frankly still love.

The Matrix film provided a peak into what may be defined as a reality distortion at minimum and an all out construct at its core.

Thankfully, this is a growing suspicion.  Perhaps it is the collective cog in the wheel that has allowed for the wielding of power over others for hundreds of thousands of years.  And now, with the prospect of pulling out of formation, the wheel may be losing momentum.

But in order to bring it to a grinding halt, we must take some bold steps, and humbly concede to human habituation.

Hypnosis is an interesting word.  It is a ubiquitous phenomenon.  It is defined as: an artificially induced trance state resembling sleep, characterized by heightened susceptibility to suggestion.

But here’s where it gets really interesting…

When you take the word hypnosis and remove the h-y-p or hype as it were, you’re left with “nosis.”  Add a “g” and you get the word gnosis And gnosis is roughly defined as knowledge – particularly experiential knowledge of spiritual or mystical import – the antithesis of following proclamations from external sources.  It is the necessity to explore the expanse of inner reality, without the hype of an outer matrix.

Are the masses products of hypnosis or gnosis?

Renowned investigative journalist, author, and Pulitzer Prize nominee Jon Rappoport who developed three powerful programs designed to educate the public about the intricacies of a well planned out and implemented matrix, and moreover the methods by which one can exit this construct, has spent years conducting painstaking research to corroborate the actual existence of such a reality.  Among the many “informants” Rappoport has interviewed throughout the course of his research, was a hypnotherapist who goes by the professional name of Jack True.

In an interview in which Rappoport discusses this “Matrix Revealed,” he says,“Jack was to me the most innovative hypnotherapist in the world who eventually gave up doing hypnotherapy because [as he said], “The new patients walking through my door are already hypnotized.  So my job is to un-hypnotize them.”  And as Rappoport reports, that was the basis of True’s most profound work.  “What Jack was doing with his patients was getting them to access their sleeping imagination.  And he found marvelous and ingenious ways of doing that, and people’s lives changed enormously as a result of doing that.”

Besides being a hard core investigative journalist, Jon Rappoport is a true advocate of the power of creative imagination as a means by which the individual can express their own inner power and live well outside the confines of a matrix-like reality.  I too have encouraged enlisting the power of imagination and discuss this at length in my book Conscious Musings – Contemplations to Transform Life and Realize Potential.  Imagination is a tool that we have all been endowed with but somehow forfeited in favor of a packaged reality – a reality that is perhaps easier to navigate and yet demonstrably uninspired.

Although it may be difficult for many to contemplate that the visible world is laden with deception from one end of the reality creation spectrum to another, when one steps back from it all and mentally processes the escalating insanity that we call our world on every conceivable level, one can deduce that something unnatural is going on – and has been all along.

Reality or the distortion thereof has been described as a broadcast.  In fact, spiritual philosopher and teacher Neil Kramer has flat out called this matrix “The unreality broadcast” – that which transmits normal to the masses.

In his book, The Unfoldment, Kramer says, “By design, the distortion normalizes the perception of everything and everybody.  It is the default gravitation for those who choose not to generate reality themselves.  The reason most people choose not to generate their own reality is because they do not realize that they can.”

The distortion has ensured this reality!

Just recently I gave a talk about the power of imagination.  I guided a large group of individuals into a meditation in which they could utilize their  power of imagination to create a reality of their own choosing.  I incorporated the tools of sound and light – that eternal spark that we all carry within, as a means by which to illuminate personal power.  At the end of the meditation, most felt that they had a very empowering experience, although one woman came over to me afterward and said, “I had a problem seeing the light.  Do you have any written instructions that I can follow next time?”

After I assured her that there is no template for imagination, that it is an individual exploration, and I encouraged her to practice on her own, I thought about how damaging the matrix had become to individual creative power – how desperately so many had depended on it to live their lives from cradle to grave.  Fortunately, most others in the audience felt an incredible sense of creative power while using their imagination during the meditation – and that was an encouraging notion!

Interesting that her comment was about not being able to see the light.  In order to live in the light of imagination, we have to first see it and know that we are it.  That is gnosis!

Despite a concerted effort to keep humanity unplugged from their own power, this ever expanding suspicion by individuals who are now feeling that something just isn’t quite right – that maybe, just maybe, we have been lied to, is resonating to new heights.  Could it be that the matrix is about to be broken up?

It is now time to break free from the long affair – a symbiotic relationship with a constructed reality – and enlist the power of imagination to begin anew.

As Jon Rappoport so succinctly put it in a recent blog post entitled, The Matrix Revealed – The Individual with Power, “True individual power has no limit.  It is not dominance. It is a kind of joy. It is imagination. It is, in the broadest sense, art. It is the human being as creator without limits. It is, as the saying goes, living in the world without being of the world. It is deeper and deeper realms of beauty. It is inventing new worlds. It is choosing any part of any former reality and incorporating it into something new and unprecedented. It is also inventing from Nothing. It moves in any and all directions. It is what people have deserted. They have cast it away. They have buried it. They have abandoned it. They have refused to understand it or recognize it when it is under their noses.”

Reality as we think it to be is not a fait accompli.  The story is still unfolding by its true authors, the inhabitants of this planet – us!

It’s time to break the trance and restore true gnosis.  The creative power is not only right under our noses, it is within our hearts.  No need for instructions from the matrix in order to see the light!

Jon Rappoport will be Alexis Brooks’ guest on Conscious Inquiry Radio in December to discuss his explosive Matrix Series and the power of imagination.  Stay tuned to ConsciousLifeNews.com for what is sure to be an incredible interview!


Alexis BrooksAlexis Brooks is a personal intuitive consultant, best-selling author of Conscious Musings – Contemplations to Transform Life and Realize Potential and is the host of the popular  Conscious Inquiry Radio program, exclusively presented by Conscious Life News.  Visit Alexis on FacebookTwitter and YouTube!

I Am a Patriot. Stop This Madness. No More Killing In Our Names.

Tighe Barry | Commondreams

'I am a patriot,' writes Barry, 'serving my country the best that I know how.' (Image: Acronym TV/screengrab)

‘I am a patriot,’ writes Barry, ‘serving my country the best that I know how.’ (Image: Acronym TV/screengrab)

On Thursday, November 13, I dropped down in my seat at the hearing room of the House Armed Services Committee on the Administration’s Strategy and Military Campaign against ISIL, a little depressed at what was to come. More war, less hope for peace. Just two days earlier, on Veterans Day, I was at the widely advertised and well attended “Concert for Valor” on the National Mall. Veterans Day was previously known as Armistice Day, started after WWI as a day to celebrate an end to war. Now it’s a day to glorify warriors, and I was threatened with arrest for having a sign that read “Celebrate the Peacemakers.”

The moment I sat down in the Congressional hearing and heard the conversation between Chairman Buck McKeon and the witness Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, a warm rush of thoughts came over me that made me feel very nostalgic. Here I was, after 13 years that has not only brought our country deeper in wars, deeper in debt, but also made us less safe and less free. I started thinking about my father. He fought in the “good war”, World War II.  He was only 18 years old when he was sent off to war. Then came my older brother. He joined the army to go to Vietnam because he got a low number in the draft lottery. Meanwhile, my sister joined the anti-war movement—marching, fighting and being beaten at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago trying to end that war and get our brother back, alive. I remembered my father’s disappointment that his son had to go fight for his country thousands of miles away while our hometown city of Detroit burned with racism—a racism that disregarded the rights of so many who were also fighting for their country in foreign wars.

And now me, protesting for 10 years against a crazy, endless war in the Middle East that my country’s leaders can barely understand, let alone explain to its people. For my two boys, growing up in the wake of 9/11, all they know is war.

I sat there listening to the war talk, unable to recall what it was like before 9/11 – before endless war, hate, and division. Before “Take off your shoes and your belt” at the airport. Before “No signs allowed” on the National Mall. Before NSA watching over us “for our own safety.”

And then it happened. I felt a rush of freedom and patriotism—the same feelings I used to have before being told to live my life in fear. I wanted those values again. I know the truth. I’ve been there. Seen it. My father, brother and sister taught me. “You live in the United States, land of the free, home of the brave” they said. Their words were ringing in my ears. “You are a patriot, my son,” my mother told me when I was arrested for protesting in the House Gallery at the beginning of the Iraq war. Yes I am! A Patriot! I serve my country with my consciousness and fearlessness in the face of a fearful nation and government intimidation.

I will stand up to Secretary Hagel and this spineless Congress, I decided. I will smile and tell them that they don’t know what they are doing and that I will not be part of their insane wars. Ha! Enlightenment! The Emperor has no clothes! It is my job, my service to this country, my children, in the memory of my father and the brave ones before me to shout it out.

“American intervention is the problem!” I stood up and shouted out. I’m not weak but strong, able to do this duty for God, country and family. “Stop this madness!” “No more killing in our names!” Proudly, I held up my not-allowed-in Congress sign that said: “There is no military solution.”

Forward toward freedom, I thought. “Bring our war dollars home!” I shouted. Oops, swish, boom. I am dragged out the door of the hearing room by several police. Smash, clink, clank. I face into the wall in the hallway immediately outside the House chamber. Cuffs on. A smile on my face. I am my father’s son and a good brother, I thought. This is the “good war.” I am a patriot, serving my country the best that I know how. I smile more, shout more. “We are America, we can use diplomacy, we can lead the way to peace. Hallelujah!”

So wake up America, fear ye not! Blessed are the peacemakers for they can get bullied off the National Mall by Park Police, arrested in Congress for holding signs, or carted off in paddywagons. But their voices will never be silenced.


Tighe Barry is a member of the peace group CodePink.org.

More from Commondreams

Sovereignty Series: Lost in America

Cognitive Dissonance | ZeroHedge.com

As a young adult studying world history in high school I often wondered what happened to various countries that had turned despotic or dictatorial when previously they were republics or somewhat benevolent kingdoms. The list is endless and needs no repeating here other than a few recent examples for illustration purposes.

Just mention Nazi Germany or Fascist Italy and especially Japan in the run up to World War II and opinions are quickly offered by both apologists and those who wish to point fingers. All these countries were at some point peaceful and civilized, or at least not extremely dangerous to themselves and to others, before they tipped over into utter insanity and were consumed by their ‘self’.

While I do understand history is written not only by the ‘winners’, but by the propagandists in order to control and mold minds, certain trends and cycles are glaringly obvious even to the deaf, dumb and blind. Repeatedly it seems the sweet fruit of liberty and justice, however limited it may be, eventually turns sour and rots on the vine.

Why is that?

Most people would quickly quip, “Well, that’s just human nature.” And I might be hard pressed to successfully argue the flip side, especially if I were discussing the issue with someone who doesn’t see themselves subject to ‘human nature’. Because oftentimes when people blame the human condition as the source of global problems they rarely see themselves as part of the problem, of the herd that succumbs to the insanity. And yet there they are, smack dab in the middle of the mess, demanding someone else clean it up.

If I were to put a rat in a closed box with no other source of food save a lever which, when pushed, dispensed food pellets, would I be able to claim it is ‘rodent nature’ for the rat to press a lever for food? If devoid of all other distractions and pursuits other than a lever that dispenses food, would I be able to say the rat is obsessed with pushing the lever for food and this is also simply rat nature?

This is, of course, a gross oversimplification of the human condition. Humans don’t live in closed boxes and push levers for food. They live in closed boxes with doors and windows and a multitude of other distractions while pushing microwave buttons to dispense food after heating. Any other similarities between rats and humans are purely coincidental.

The above sarcasm was presented to illustrate how simplistic, silly really, our opinions are regarding both ‘human nature’ and what we personally attribute to human nature. Since as individuals we egotistically declare ourselves above the fray and not one of the great unwashed ‘them’, in other words isolated, alien even and most certainly nonhuman, we can quickly dismiss the behavior of others as aberrant while being just like everyone else.

If that boxed rat had been born into his or her captivity and since birth the entire world consisted of the box and nothing else, how narrow a slice of perceived reality would the rat be working with? And how limited is the rat in its ability to discern not only what the ‘real’ world was like, but what ‘rat nature’ consisted of if its mind was boxed up even tighter than its body?

Now extend that thought experiment outward and into our human world and recognize that while we are not physically isolated to any degree equal to the rat, for all intents and purposes our mind is. While the illusion of finite boundaries within the rat’s world is simplistic because the rat’s brain is (supposedly) limited, our externally (and internally) created illusion is infinitely more complex solely because our minds are exponentially more intricate and thus need more creative and multifaceted creations to sate the lazy brain and keep our curiosity dormant. We will not comprehend what we do not wish to see.

I contend there is but one simple explanation for Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, the hive mind of WWII Japan and now an increasingly Tyrannical America. “We the People”, while proudly declaring our love affair for freedom and liberty, are increasingly boxed in both body and mind. Sadly we perceive little more than the images projected upon the walls of our closed box by our own ‘authorities’ and sociopaths. Of course, this explanation only applies to all of you out there and most certainly not me. Simply put the problem is you, not me. See how easy that was?

This is not to say there aren’t thousands, even tens of thousands, of sociopaths running loose throughout this country and the world. This includes the extremely destructive global central banks that administer the horribly exploitive financial system which is at the heart of the world’s insanity.

Nor do I dismiss the hundreds of thousands of other so-called ‘authorities’ out there, all those borderline sociopaths and wannabe despots who presently occupy nearly every seat of power, be it political, corporate, academic or private non-profit institutions. These individuals and groups are the puppets and puppet masters who pull the strings and apply the pressure and reap the benefits of corruption on a daily basis. I get all that, I really do. I am not dismissing their suffocating oppression and overwhelming influence upon every aspect of our lives.


This condition, these individuals and groups, do not exist in a vacuum…

Continue reading

Waking Up The Goddess: Why Women Will Change The World

Manel Blanco |  Waking Times

For too many centuries and up to the present moment, women have been like footnotes in history books that no one bothered to read. Confined to a secondary role, they have been cast aside to serve the needs of society and men. In the present era circumstances have changed as there seems to be a gradual movement towards equality; but we are not there yet. We are still far from reaching the necessary level which would guarantee the balance beneficial to all in ways the human mind cannot yet conceive.

SleepingEarthGoddessMen still occupy the majority of senior positions in all public administrations, private business and corporations. Even when a woman holds a professional position equal to a male colleague, the inequality still reflects in lower salaries, for reasons beyond comprehension and which clearly points out at a covert discrimination fueled by the historical inertia propelled by the archaic beliefs and rules of a patriarchal society that no longer provides for the real needs of humanity.

These beliefs created by and for the convenience of patriarchal society continue deeply ingrained in the collective psyche and affects everyone. The most blatant representation of this effect is the gratuitous violence against women and the rape culture that is suppressing the wonderful qualities of women generation after generation after generation. It is not the case that more rapes are committed in present time, but that women and an increasing part of society had enough of this systematic and endemic form of oppression. There are more cases reported due to a simple fact; women have a stronger voice and they’re no longer alone. There is a increasing number of men that will no longer stand for it either. I happen to be one of them. The role of the administration in this social plague is shameful and deceitful. No government or administration has established a viable plan which even begins to touch the surface of the problem. Worse than that, there are no signs that they have any intention either. The role of the media does not fall short of shame, as it only serves as a distracting tool broadcasting the tragedies that the same neglectful administrations are causing throughout the world. For as long as men have control of the administration from their Ivory Towers, this problem will continue to be a shame to men and society as a whole. The fact is: the current state of the world is not working neither for men, nor women.

But not everything is doom and gloom. There is hope. One way to change the world is to tackle the problems that we have here and now. Instead of doing this, we are creating more. What we do today can change the world forever. It is our actions what will transform the world into a place in which we can all live together and not against each other.

As a woman there are two factors that you need to consider in order to transform and project your true self to the world, as these are the most significant and have more influence that you would imagine in who you are today. First, there is an obstacle which is going to prove difficult to overcome, but not impossible. The fact is that the treatment that women have received for centuries has left a legacy in energetic terms. Every action that has been taken in the past to coerce freedom is still here. This energy works as an invisible chain which stops you from expanding. It is an energy emerged from limiting actions and it continues to be restrictive today and now.

Unknowingly you are holding prisoner a wild woman within that when found and liberated will show you who you really are. The wild woman is not one that destroys, even though she is a powerful warrior and she would not tolerate such imposed barriers. She is a warrior of love. Love is all that is needed to bring down traditions that go against humanity. There is a wonderful scope to expand in front of you. Remember this and believe in it. This world is going to change and women are going to play and already playing an essential role in this transformation. In case you didn’t know; you are woman, Muse, Thinking Muse and Goddess. Do you still wonder why unconscious men fear you? You are incredibly powerful and when you begin to show your true self to the world with love, fear will subside.

The second factor plays in your favour and it is your greatest ally. Having played a secondary role throughout history has also given you centuries of empowering energy which is raised from love. Love is the most powerful source there is and can heal all. From the beginning, the participation of women in society has been crucial in order to perpetuate the continuance of human life. This is obvious information we all know, although one which significance I believe escapes the awareness of the collective. Giving birth to a child is something no man will ever understand, as it is physically impossible to experience. What we experience we don’t know, and what we don’t know we fear.

A woman is a Goddess of Life, a creator. In essence women are more caring, loving and nurturing. It has been centuries of nurturing not only humanity, but the soul. Women are much more in touch with the soul because from the beginning of existence you have been in touch with your feelings and emotions absorbing the pain and suffering of humanity in silence. And it is through feeling that we heal. Do continue feeling and continue crying. Do not allow anyone, especially men, to make you believe that you are hysterical or mad when you do. You are a woman and you feel in ways most men cannot understand. Feelings and tears are healing. If the whole of humanity began to cry at the same time today so as to feel the collective pain and suffering, the world would heal from all its misery.

There is magic to the invisibility in the actions of women; those actions that are taken for granted and which provide day after day for numerous things which seem to be planted there for the use others. Mothers are the best example. You nurture, love, care, create and provide. We only notice when such things are no longer there. The signs that women are more in touch with the soul are fairly obvious. Women are more spontaneous, ready to sing and dance in public more often than men. You are more vibrant and colorful. It shows in women’s choice of clothing and personal items. Anyone who has been observant in public might have seen this scene. A couple are in a shop looking for items to decorate their new home. The woman sees an object that speaks to her soul and in most cases the man’s response is: this is too expensive or it’s not practical or I can make that. A woman is looking for the soul in all objects, to bring colour and rhythm to the house, while a man is still building a fort or a shed in which everything is practical and cost-effective. Balance is the key. This world lacks colour, as it lacks soul. And here is where women are crucial, but so are men.

It is time for women to organise, create groups and cooperatives, foundations and gather in a collective and creative effort. The soul allows for a creativity that has not yet exploded in the world. It is also time for women to begin to support and empower each other in both, common and personal endeavours. This is a process that takes time and patience. What cannot continue is that women prey on other women because of personal differences due to beliefs. I see multiple examples of this every day. The question ‘To be or not to be’  has now changed to ‘cleavage or no cleavage’, and it is painful to see. If we don’t respect others, we will never have their respect. What we give we receive. Everyone wants to love and be loved. Let’s allow it and let’s do it together. If you on the other hand are more the individualistic type and have a project which you believe you can do alone, do so. There are no rules when it comes to creativity and how we proceed. What matters is that you use your creativity, imagination. Be persistent, be flexible and do not be discouraged. Success takes time and often sacrifices. Begin now. Join a group already established or create one.

So far we have two energies which influence you. The one which can transform the world is the energy that speaks to the soul and from the soul. It is not a matter of fighting the restrictive energy, but to use and expand the creativity of your true expression. By giving more attention to such energy with your actions you will be contributing to its expansion. The equation is simple, as the creative soul occupies more of the spectrum of life it causes the other energy to recede until it disappears. This is a daily task; it is a long journey and even though it is a collective effort, your actions, no matter how small they appear to be are important, as this also contributes to your personal transformation and your way to freedom. No one is going to do the work for you or for me. This is work we have to do ourselves. It is possible. Everything is possible.

I am sitting while I write at Southsea Coffee co. in Portsmouth. There are two ‘waitresses’ dancing, talking to each other as they work. There are two more members of the staff. It is not clear whether they’re working or not. A third one come and sits at one of the tables after greeting everyone. There’s a smile in all of them which goes deeper than their faces. To call them waitresses would be an understatement. We are not job descriptions. To consider the people who regularly come here as customers would be another understatement too. It is a place in which souls gather to enjoy the company of others, as if we all had a prearranged agreement to meet and it is a beautiful synergy to see. In this case the soul of the owners is expressed through a physical establishment, making a strong, uncompromising statement to the world. It is a collective effort. And this is home. Home is not the physical place in which I was born. Home is the true essence of each individual, that part of us which we fear to express openly as we somehow believe someone else will come to harm it. The soul cannot be destroyed and it is always intact. As an individual we can get completely detached from the soul, but the soul is always there. This place is a clear reflection of what we together can do to transform the world. One day at a time.

The effect that this movement will have in the world is extraordinary. Ask for help when you can, and when there is no one to help, ask the universe. It is listening. The shift of energy is already happening. Know that there is a large group of men supporting you even if they don’t express their voices too loudly. Bring them in to participate, not to organise or lead, but to support you. You would be surprised the response of men we asked. If someone is not receptive, let them be. There is no need to explain yourself. Keep doing what you want to do. The energy that you are going to produce is not only transforming you, but everyone around and eventually the world. We are our actions. If you are a man reading this, you may want to read my blog post ‘Balancing Energies: Restoring Male Energy and Raising Female Energy’. You will understand why our help is needed.

I intend to write extensively about this topic as integration and acceptance of each other is essential. First, for both men and women separately, to bring both genders together, as it is together we change things. There is a simple reason why men and society must participate in this process, and this is because both have an incredible opportunity to blossom when we allow the energies and creativity that for so long have been suppressed. I’d like to hear your opinions and any questions you may have on the subject. Regardless of what gender you fall in, before you dismiss this idea, ask yourself whether you like the world as it is or you would like to see it transform. Remember; you can make a difference.

Detroit Activists Resist Bankruptcy Plan

Popular Resistance

bankruptFederal Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes’ approval of the Plan of Adjustment is not in the best interests of Detroiters. The plan, submitted by emergency manager Kevyn Orr, supported by Mayor Duggan and Gov. Snyder, protects banks, gives away public resources, and has no method to revitalize the city.

We object!

“We don’t live in a bankrupt city; we live in a city being attacked by bankrupt officials,” said Rev. Ed Rowe of Central United Methodist Church.

From the very beginning this process has been a sham. The city was not bankrupt. Independent analysts demonstrated that the city suffered from a cash flow problem, caused by the cessation of promised state revenue sharing.

The systematic withdrawal of state support, cutbacks to public services and schools, and massive layoffs in the public sector, combined with policies encouraging industry to move elsewhere, have created enormous pain for the people of Detroit.

We have endured the evils of structural racism, fiscal austerity, the loss of millions of jobs, and criminal predatory lending policies. We have been insulted and disrespected by appointed authorities like emergency manager Kevyn Orr, who call us “dumb, lazy, happy and rich.” Encouraging a policy of divide-and-conquer within the region, these misleaders attempt to deflect attention away from the deep-seated structural problems we all face. They encourage blame and guilt rather than creativity and compassion.

In spite of these enormous attacks, Detroiters have sustained themselves by drawing on our city’s history of struggle for the dignity of labor and the civil rights of all people. We have a rich history of challenging the dehumanizing development of corporate power and the systematic denial of the rights of people to live full, human and creative lives. By calling upon traditions of extended families, long-standing neighborhood ties, grassroots community and political organizations, we have built institutions to meet our needs and are developing new and creative ways of making a living.

We are proud to be a city framed by African American leadership that has consistently challenged the values of racism, materialism, and militarism. We claim a legacy that is shaping a new cultural life and providing a beacon of hope for the nation and the world for courage and commitment to change.

The Snyder-Orr-Duggan version of history attempts to distort this reality. They try to hide the complicated history that has caused the devastation of Detroit. They refuse to acknowledge that the wealth of the surrounding region has been won on the backs of the working people of Detroit. Now their so-called Plan of Adjustment will benefit the same small minority of wealthy people and major financial institutions. The rich will become richer, while the people of Detroit are forced to sacrifice their homes, pensions, healthcare, and city services.

The Plan of Adjustment has immediately and severely hurt tens of thousands of city of Detroit retirees in the Detroit Metro area by terminating their healthcare. Cuts to pensions will come soon. In order to buy off financial speculators like Syncora or FGIC, the city has been forced to cede valuable riverfront property, downtown land, garages, and, of course, cold cash.

As the result of 40 years of a federal judge’s unnecessary control of the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, the local wealthy classes have finally succeeded in their goal of dismantling the system and seizing major assets — the treatment plants, the intake plants and arterial lines from Detroit — through the Great Lakes Water Authority, a creation of the Plan of Adjustment. This authority was preceded by the privatization of waste collection and the fabrication of a similar creature, the Lighting Authority.

The prospects for the successful long-term implementation of the Plan of Adjustment are dim. It has been damned with faint praise, as in the testimony of the only official financial expert specifically appointed by the court to evaluate the feasibility of the plan.

All those responsible for creating the plan, including Jones-Day law firm and innumerable consultants, have taken over $100 million in legal fees from the bare cupboards of Detroit. And they will all leave town.

Meanwhile, Kevyn Orr is already traveling Europe extolling the powerful gains of the bankruptcy here, focusing on future targets — small nations – for extracting wealth and seizing assets. Snyder was re-elected as governor in no small part for having “fixed” Detroit, though Detroiters themselves overwhelming voted against him.

In Detroit, whatever the Mayor and City Council decide to do, it will be done under the very watchful eye of the state financial review board for 13 years. Because there is little new money in the Plan of Adjustment, there will soon be a conflict between city government and the financial review board because of the rising discontent of the majority of Detroiters with the results of the Plan of Adjustment.

More from Popular Resistance


Breaking Video: Net Neutrality Advocates Blockade FCC Chairman’s Georgetown Home

Source:  PopularResistance.org

Advocates for net neutrality blockaded FCC Chair Tom Wheelers driveway this morning, Monday, November 10, 2014, just as the Chairman was getting into his car. Six people participated in the blockade with a large banner that read “Save the Internet.” They also held signs demanding that Wheeler listen to the people. They chanted “Don’t let the Internet die. Time to reclassify!” and sang “Which side are you on Tom? Are you with the people or with the Telecoms?”

The protest, which kicked off at 6:55 am, is organized by PopularResistance.org, the same group that Occupied the FCC from May 7 to May 15. They are demanding that Wheeler drop plans to advance so-called “hybrid” rules that fail to protect free speech, and fully reclassify the Internet as a common carrier under Title II.

[Editor’s Note: Scroll below to see link to President Obama’s statement on this issue, released later this morning]

“We’re blockading Tom Wheeler’s driveway because he’s made it clear that when he goes to work, he’s not working for the public, he’s working for Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T, the companies that used to pay his salary when he was a lobbyist for the Cable industry,” said Kevin Zeese, co-director of Popular Resistance, “The future of the Internet is a life or death matter for marginalized people all over the world. We cannot in good conscience allow this corrupt official to carry on with business as usual.”

“The Internet is an essential tool in all of our lives for many reasons such as the growing citizen’s media, information sharing and access to goods and services. All people must have equal access to content without discrimination. Wealthy corporations should not get faster Internet delivery service than start-ups and citizens’ groups. ” said Margaret Flowers, MD, co-director of Popular Resistance.

Zeese added “The FCC received a record number of comments, with more than 3.7 million responding to the rulemaking proceeding on the future of the Internet; 99% of those comments favored net neutrality and reclassification. How dare Chairman Wheeler ignore the overwhelming majority of the people in favor of corporations like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T. Tom Wheeler is playing with fire. We will be escalating our protests if he continues down the path of ignoring the people. If Wheeler is unable to fulfill President Obama’s promise to protect net neutrality, then he should resign or be removed from office.”

Wheeler served as the top lobbyist for  cable TV and telephone corporations before becoming chair of the FCC. “This is a crisis of democracy. The people have clearly spoken and Wheeler is supposed to represent the public interest, not the interests of Comcast and Verizon. It is time for him to listen to the public and reclassify the Internet as a common carrier so it can be regulated like a public utility,” added Flowers.

Popular Resistance is urging people to join them at a Vigil to Save the Internet tonight, November 10th, at Tom Wheeler’s Georgetown home. Journalists or activists interested in attending should contact Margaret Flowers or Kevin Zeese at info@popularresistance.org. Following successful nationwide protests last week, the group is also working with other net neutrality advocates to hold a Dance Party to Save the Internet at the White House on Thursday evening, November 13th, at 6 PM in Lafayette Park.

At approximately 9:30 this morning, the White House released this video:


Action Alert: Hold Israel Accountable for Its Actions in East Jerusalem

Source:  Jewish Voice for Peace

Tell VP Biden to have an honest conversation about Israeli policies with Jewish leaders

In just a few days, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will speak to the largest gathering of Jewish leaders in the country at the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America—and we have a real chance to influence what he says.

Timing is critical: Jerusalem is on edge as tensions erupt over the status of the Haram al Sharif/Temple Mount complex. Violence and repression are escalating quickly, sure to be fueled by yesterday’s provocative call by an Israeli official for the construction of the third Temple over al-Aqsa.

Will Vice President Biden avoid the elephant in the room? Or will he show tough love and challenge American Jewish leaders’ de-facto support for expanded settlements, the demolition of Palestinian homes, segregated bus lines, and the source of many of the tensions we’re seeing now, the “Judaization” of East Jerusalem?

We have just a few days to urge him to tell the truth. Help us flood Vice President Biden’s office with emails and calls to demand an honest conversation about Israeli policies.

Click here to send a message directly to Biden’s office.

While the U.S. government has always provided unconditional support for Israel’s occupation, today the  relationship between the White House and Israeli leadership is more strained than ever. Our elected and Jewish leaders need to hold Israel accountable to international law, not pander to the farthest-right elements of Israeli society.

Click here to tell U.S. Vice President Biden to speak the truth.

If we don’t speak up now, Biden is likely to tell this gathering of thousands exactly what many want to hear—a tired fairy tale about unconditional support for the United States “greatest ally” that allows everyone to continue ignoring the ongoing crises on the ground.

We have 4 days to deliver our message to Vice President Biden. Send a message to Biden’s office now! Let him know we are watching and expect him to take action, and to challenge leaders at the JFNA gathering.

Naomi Dann
Media Coordinator, Jewish Voice for Peace

Introducing ThriveTogether – Foster and Kimberly Gamble

Source: THRIVE Movement – by Foster and Kimberly Gamble

Would you like to…

  • Participate in a game-changing global conversation?
  • Suggest and vote on topics that matter to you?
  • Access Foster’s & Kimberly’s research process and data?
  • Connect the dots on current events?
    Co-create a trans-political, ethical blueprint for global healing?

Become a Thriver Subscriber, and you will!

The mission of ThriveTogether is to provide a forum where transparent, open-minded discussion will nourish our critical thinking and effective collaboration.

We will explore different perspectives, foster respectful debate, and engage the full range of skills and insights of people participating in this vast global movement.

Together we will unpack key patterns in current events and solution strategies, life skills for thriving and the principles by which to empower an effective transformational revolution — what we are calling the transvolution. Come as you are!

We invite you to check out a sample ThriveTogether blog, where we share our in-process discovery and invite you to join us live to help unpack the stories.

Read more….

Rise Up America, Rise Up!

Mohammed Mesbahi | Commondreams

Statue of Liberty through the morning fog from the Staten Island Ferry. (Photo: Brian Angell/flickr/cc)   SPhoto credit: Shutterstock, copyright Misti Hymas

Statue of Liberty through the morning fog from the Staten Island Ferry. (Photo: Brian Angell/flickr/cc)
SPhoto credit: Shutterstock, copyright Misti Hymas

The time has come when America must rapidly transform its values through a more inclusive and spiritual vision, based upon a just sharing of the world’s resources. It is up to you, the youth of America, to lead the way by organizing a non-stop demonstration in every state, until that nationwide wave of peaceful protest eventually catches on globally.

* * *

What has caused the United States of America, such a great nation, to sink to the depths of turmoil and confusion that it finds itself in today? A country that was founded upon the ideals of freedom, justice and democracy, but that has increasingly lost its way and degraded these noble concepts – to the extent that the Statue of Liberty should really bow her head and reassemble her broken shackles, and let go her flaming torch. Those shackles should represent the ugly and imprisoning idea of the American Dream as it manifests in a highly commercialized and divided society, with such dire repercussions for the rest of the world. An idea that breeds more and more division, fear and injustice, and that has led successive American governments to arrogantly domineer other nations. An idea that continues to debase the goodwill of ordinary Americans and push the entire country towards catastrophe, unless it dramatically changes course with all humility and a sense of urgency.

“In love there is freedom in the truest sense – a freedom from the old, from injustice, from the grand theft and corruption that has blighted America’s profounder greatness for so many years.”

Why don’t most of us perceive the dangers inherent in pursuing the American Dream? Everyone understands its meaning in a general sense, in terms of the desire to be successful, rich and happy. But few of us reflect on how this dream has progressively misled the people of America from sustaining the true values of their nation – indeed a dream that was originally built on theft from the indigenous peoples that rightfully inhabited the continent. For underlying the American Dream is the drive for profit through an ever intensifying path of commercialization, which is the necessary basis for fulfilling America’s desire to have a wealthy and superior way of life. The American Dream was not abducted by commercialization, but freely given to it ever since its inception. And in that process the Land of Liberty has become the chief proponent of a market forces ideology that it ruthlessly exported throughout the world, leading to social upheaval in almost every country and escalating international tension.

From an inner or psychological perspective the American Dream should really be perceived as a self-centered and harmful concept, in that it leads so many people to seek wealth and success as a means to finding an ever elusive happiness, regardless of the consequences for others. It is a big lie that millions of young people continue to fall for, one that poses a very effective tool for the forces of commercialization to manipulate and misguide us. Because in our desire to become a ‘somebody’, to become ever more wealthy and perhaps even famous and powerful, it is not long before our personalities are influenced by greed and indifference which inevitably causes a dysfunction of our emotional intelligence. When perceived inwardly it is greed per se that separates us from the reality of the heart and its attributes, and directly influences us to become indifferent to the suffering or well-being of others. Even if we do not yearn to become rich and successful by dint of our fame or achievements, the social conditioning of the American Dream still causes us to distort our life purpose through the narrow, materialistic and selfish pursuit of our individual happiness. Rarely does the question then occur to us: what about the others who didn’t make it? Does the American Dream mean that we have to cancel them from America?

The reality of One Humanity

The one who is heavily conditioned by the American Dream is subject to a form of mental blindness in which they see only themselves, and not the spiritual reality of our interconnected lives among seven billion people. Their love is often crushed in such a way that they are proud to call themselves a patriotic American, even in the midst of other people living in loneliness and misery all around them. This pernicious conditioning also encourages children to grow up with the idea that America is the most important country in the world (if not the only continent that exists), leading them to enter into adulthood with little awareness of the extreme poverty and hardship that is experienced by the people of other nations. It is not uncommon for those who live in the United States to have absolutely no idea where Africa is situated on a world map, for example, let alone any notion of how devastating American foreign policy is for countless innocent people in far-away regions.

The very phrase ‘American Dream’ is divisive and divorced from spiritual reality, a phrase that is sustained by a wrong devotional attachment to an aspirational idea. And that idea has always been nurtured by an emotional sense of pride that has misguided generations of ordinary Americans from perceiving the reality of One Humanity. No matter how the American Dream is defined in a dictionary, from an spiritual point of view that idea will always be associated with division and injustice as we have seen in evidence throughout the twentieth century, and still continue to see. It is in fact a peculiarly self-centered idea in that is only unconsciously tinted with spiritual aspiration, for if it was inspired by a truly spiritual vision then it would have been the One Humanity Dream, and nothing else besides. As a consequence the American Dream has always separated itself from the highest ideal of the commons; that is, the common good of One Humanity.

It’s natural for the people of America to love their country and their way of life, if they find they can fit into that way of life and close their minds to the world’s problems. But the American Dream of individual prosperity and happiness is not connected to reality anymore, not in light of all the crises and mass injustices that plague the Earth today. To carry on repeating the Pledge of Allegiance every morning is a narrow-minded and meaningless gesture in this respect, so long as America fails to open her arms to the rest of the world. Can you imagine pledging allegiance to the flag of the United States of America with your hand on heart, while your other hand holds a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – which declares that everyone in the world has the right to liberty and justice, and not only Americans? Would that make any sense, and how would that feel – knowing that millions of people are needlessly dying from hunger and poverty each year, while so much of the world’s resources are hoarded and wasted in affluent countries, particularly within the United States? Notwithstanding the dire poverty that is quietly experienced by millions of people within America itself, who are mostly unheard of and hidden as if they didn’t exist.

The true American Dream – a dream that represents the soul of the nation as a whole – is to help and uplift the world in cooperation with other countries. But that is very different from the old idea of the American Dream that has crystallized over many generations, and exists with its polar opposite in the form of socialism and communism. A true and noble concept should be inclusive and not exclusive, and yet both the capitalist and communist nations have failed to live up to their respective visions of equality and justice, and have instead violated human rights on a colossal scale and instigated widespread global conflict. Despite all the pain and suffering these ideologies have caused both before and after the two World Wars, none of the major powers have learned the necessary lesson of sacrifice or adopted a true path of multilateral cooperation and economic sharing. And in the unique case of America, whose presidents still espouse their role in leading the world towards peace and prosperity, it has continually chosen to go the opposite way by pursuing an aggressive self-interest that is thinly disguised as national security.

A deceiving world philanthropist

We may argue that the United States has given so much in overseas aid, but it really assumes the role of a deceiving world philanthropist by first exploiting other countries through unjust trade and illegal wars, thereafter donating a tiny proportion of its ill-gotten gains to help alleviate the suffering that it also caused. And that aid represents utter hypocrisy when billions of dollars are given to help poor or distressed foreign countries, while millions of citizens within the United States are sadly ignored by their government. Why has America recently given a billion dollars of aid to Ukraine in Eastern Europe, for example, while it abandons the poor and marginalized people of its own in Detroit? As any activist knows, it is because the federal government primarily serves its strategic self-interest and opportunities for profit, which is the game of commercialization that has gradually fused with the old idea of the American Dream until both are now virtually synonymous.

For too long has America been guided by this harmful concept that is sustained by the pursuit of profit and power, thereby damaging the lives of other nations with scant regard for its self-professed values of democracy, freedom and justice. If nothing else, the sorry state of America today shows that political and business leaders need a total re-education along more spiritual lines, based on the principle of right human relationship. America has to drastically change its priorities, towards itself and towards the world, so that common sense, humility and compassion become the shining hallmarks of its government and society. Yet even to state this unavoidable truth sounds like a fantasy when most of those in a position of power are held sway by the forces of commercialization, in which context the basic spiritual values of humanity almost appear to be utopian.

Unless America radically changes its ways it is about to go down a dark and dangerous alley for some time to come, one in which riots, violence and all kinds of social upheaval could increasingly take place. Such is the by-product of continuing to follow an individualistic and divisive idea of progress, as evidenced in all the neuroses, hatred and crime that has long been rampant across the nation. The political process in the United States has become so corrupt and profit-oriented, together with a national debt that is clearly unpayable, that a prolonged period of financial turmoil will undoubtedly worsen in the years ahead. And the prospects are dire for a nation that still trains its citizens to believe in, with pride, their right to achieve an extravagant level of personal wealth and material comfort, no matter what the cost in terms of environmental ruin and the exploitation of poorer countries. Now that the prospect of indefinitely sustaining the American way of life has become a palpable absurdity, many citizens across the nation are beginning to question with a sense of deep foreboding: ‘where is the hope that our leaders vainly promised, and what is the fate that will soon befall us?’

There is no question that the people of goodwill throughout America must rise up in unison together, and peaceably resist against the government’s polices as it profits from wars and defends corporate interests, instead of helping ordinary people in their approaching time of greatest need. Who is going to help Detroit now that it is bankrupt, for example – will it be the Pentagon or the CIA, who usurp so much of the nation’s income and resources? America has become like a dysfunctional family in which, by analogy, the children are being abused and neglected until they are eventually forced to leave home and look after themselves. In a similar way, the government in Washington is like the parent who is failing to look after all her children – namely the fifty states, many of whom like Detroit may soon fall into crisis as the economy melts. Is it not inevitable that many of these states will ultimately abandon Washington completely? Because it is the people of Detroit who made Detroit, the people of New Orleans who made New Orleans, and not Washington.

The popular demonstrations that spread across the United States in 2011 revealed how many intelligent young people have had enough of the American Dream and all it represents, even if that awareness is felt unconsciously. And that act of demonstrating as one in peaceful protest is actually an expression of love and maturity, as well as intelligence. Because in love there is freedom in the truest sense – a freedom from the old, from injustice, from the grand theft and corruption that has blighted America’s profounder greatness for so many years. Those who stand in the streets and uphold the real meaning of liberty and justice are the ones who Americans should be duly proud of, instead of clinging onto a false pride in the so-called American way of life.

The real heroes of America

Many of the Occupy protesters perceived with common sense how the American Dream has misled and divided an entire nation, and given America a vulgar reputation on the global stage. They are the real heroes of the nation, the ones who should be standing on top of the Statue of Liberty and lighting her torch. They are the ones who want to live with maturity and responsibility, rather than allowing their free will to be constantly manipulated by big corporations and self-serving politicians. They are the ones who are denouncing the forces of commercialization that hide behind the American Dream, and that incessantly try to misdirect our attention by telling us what to think and what to do, instead of allowing us to live freely in the moment of now with honesty and detachment. Of course there are many others who still strongly believe in the American Dream with a misplaced sense of pride, and who therefore looked at the tents in Zuccotti Park with bewilderment and misunderstanding, and even felt that the protesters were betraying the American way of life. But the hour is coming when all the people of America will have to ask themselves: what is the meaning of this way of life, and where is it leading us?

The government and police may believe that they have eliminated those tents from public areas, but they do not realize that they cannot eliminate all the tents that remain in the hearts of America’s youth. The politicians are gravely mistaken if they believe those tents will not return, because they are already multiplying more and more, silently and gradually from heart to heart. It may seem as if nothing is happening right now, but it is foreseeable that sooner or later there will not be just one encampment of tents in a city park, but an entire nation of tents that cannot be dismantled by even the national guard. Thus perhaps the hour is also coming when the police must ask themselves what justice really means, and what is the meaning of law and order. Perhaps they should set up a special body within the Department of Justice to study the political causes of social unrest, and then tell the government to stop causing that unrest through their harmful policies and wrong priorities. For if the government is creating disorder and injustice, does it make any sense that it calls on the police to bring back order and stand for justice? When the many people on the streets are compassionate and intelligent, and out of love they leave their homes to demonstrate for justice in accordance with its true meaning? Should the police continue to arrest and bully their fellow citizens who valiantly march with such goodwill, or should they turn their attention towards the government and say: enough is enough! We are human beings and not machines, and we will no longer follow your corrupt orders to stand against our own people!

For the time being, the predominant laws of commercialization have swept away those tents and protests from our towns and city squares. But if we look carefully within ourselves, we can see that a planetary tent has begun to vibrate in our consciousness. Now is the time for us to begin constructing this planetary tent in a collaborative endeavor, and to build it in such a way that finally, when we look up into its dome, we can see the reflection of all the faces of every human being around the world. Now is the time for the youth of America to show us the way, and to call upon the youth of other nations to help build this planetary tent together. Let the youth of America seize upon the old idea of the American Dream, and transform it by aligning their hearts and minds with a more inclusive and spiritual vision. Let them take it to the river of freedom and justice, and like a child that places a paper boat on a running stream, let them release the American Dream onto its destined course. It can be done, it should be done, and it must be done with urgency! For the world is changing now with rapid speed, and a new hope for humanity is emerging. It is up to you, the youth of America, to show us the way by organizing a non-stop demonstration in every state, until that nationwide wave of nonviolent protest eventually catches on globally.

All those groups who seek a just and sustainable society based on right human relationship should quickly come together, mindful of the fact that it will take time to structure a common vision of change. Do not be discouraged by the pundits in ties and suits who speak on television about your marches and sit-ins, saying that you have no leadership or clear demands. Most of those complacent critics have no idea what is taking place in the hearts and minds of America’s youth today. And it is to be expected that an inclusive call for justice and freedom cannot be structured to begin with, because the forces of commercialization are like a powerful magnet that constantly overwhelms and pulls us in different directions. So do not worry about how to structure your call through formal demands or institutional arrangements, but instead continue untiringly with your creative demonstrations, and in this way try to inspire the rest of the world to join you. Perhaps this is the surest way to structure love in the minds of all of us, where common sense and goodwill will be the norm in our relationship to each other and to the world.

Sharing is the master key

Through the unification of our efforts we may quickly realize that the principle of sharing is the master key for structuring our expression of love in society. One of the foremost attributes of this mistaken and neglected principle is to bring people together in freedom and joy, which was beautifully if transiently realized in the spontaneous protest movements of recent years within many cities worldwide. Compared to many violent revolutions witnessed throughout modern history, we can feel that something new has arisen in the expression of these huge demonstrations in their togetherness and joyful celebration, away from all the ‘isms’ of the past and the divisive poison of commercialization. And that new factor is the releasing of the heart en masse among many thousands of people, by simply allowing the heart to speak and express itself into the world.

If we empty our minds of intellectual content and look at the world through the perception of the heart, the first thing we see is not injustice but solely a lack of love. Indeed it is the non-expression of love in a body politic that brings about the expression of injustice per se, which can only be remedied through human processes and governmental policies that are predicated upon the principle of sharing. The youth of America must know that freedom has never, and will never exist without love and sharing. Today we live in such complex and commercialized societies that even love has become a wounded, sorrowful and meaningless word. And yet our lives together could be so joyful, liberated and creative if only we shared the world’s resources more equitably among us all.

Therefore it is imperative that we set aside some time to reflect upon the meaning of sharing in relation to the political economy and our everyday lives, for sharing is our trustiest guide to the expression of a healthy, sustainable life with justice. We are not talking about socialism, or communism, or any other political ism; we are talking about the universal principle that, when implemented into social and economic policies by our governments, can finally heal our ailing societies and solve so many of the world’s problems. Why are we demonstrating after all, if not for the love and joy that has been taken away from all of us? Why are we demonstrating, if not for the extremes of poverty and wealth that has divided us from one another in a world of plenty, where millions starve while only the few live in excessive luxury? Why are we demonstrating, if not for the ideologies and isms that are constantly thrown at us in such a polarized and demoralized society, where each day feels the same as every other day in its soullessness and anxiety? Surely the occupy protests were not only initiated to change politics and reform the economy, but also to regain our joy of living and spiritually re-occupy our hearts. Are we only fighting for the sake of our children and future generations, or also because we yearn for something better for ourselves – to live each day afresh and new with a sense of connectedness and purpose, free from the constant stress and money-making that suppresses who we truly are?

Even from a strictly rational perspective it is strategically advantageous to be among masses who call for the principle of sharing to be implemented by our governments, rather than to engage in an endless fight against capitalism or the system. The youth should also know that when we assume a position of anti-capitalism, we immediately fall into the mouth of the wolf that is commercialization. The system wants us to adopt the mind-set of ‘anti’ and ‘isms’, because capitalism itself is a very clever and sophisticated ism that voraciously feeds off our opposition and antagonism. While we have the right to express anger and oppose the systemic causes of injustice, it is futile to fight against the system because the forces mobilized to defend it are so formidable and apparently within the law. The moment we oppose those forces they will immediately bring us down and humiliate us, and cunningly push us towards violence. And that violence will beget further violence, which is exactly what the system wants in order to defend and perpetuate itself.

We should therefore be very cognizant of falling into this trap, and should not even entertain a thought in our minds of being ‘against’ or ‘anti’ the inequities of our society. We should rather work with our heart, because this is where the forces of commercialization cannot get in. It is the heart and not the idea itself that unites us, for within the wisdom of one human heart lies the wisdom of all humanity. A revolution that is instigated via ideology invariably leads to further social division and violence, but a revolution that originates via the engagement of the heart will naturally lead to common sense, togetherness, sharing, and of course love. Could it be that through millions of people coming together and calling for sharing as the means to achieving justice, even the establishment pundits and the police will eventually come and join us?

Sharing, freedom and justice for all

So let’s permanently gather in the streets and wisely articulate the yearning of our hearts, away from all the isms and our wrong education of the past. Let’s not demand that our government restructures itself and the economy in the name of socialism, capitalism or any other ism, but rather in the name of who we are – that is, in the name of we the people who are born with an equal right to evolve in freedom, dignity and peace. This is the shift in consciousness that is necessary to change America and the world, which can only arise in the absence of any thought of ideology or personal self-interest. We know that all the problems in society are escalating day by day, and it is impossible to go on living as we did before: we are tired of those selfish and materialistic ways, we don’t want to return to that bygone era, and besides we can no longer afford to. So let’s demand a just sharing of resources and not be concerned when the pundits call us naïve, knowing that the call for sharing comes from the heart when fused with common sense and reason. Let’s refuse to conform any longer to the maleficent game of commercialization, and instead let’s demonstrate for a new way of life, a new world and a new dispensation.

We don’t need to stand against this or that, but only for sharing, freedom and justice. This should be the triangle of our demands, in that same order: for the sharing of wealth and power, freedom in every meaningful sense – political, economic and civil, and thence social justice for one and all. A new era for America will never begin with a complicated list of policy demands, however, but only through a concerted and continuous call for everyone in the country to be fed, sheltered, educated and protected with universal access to the basic necessities of life, including healthcare and social security. Such is the straightforward nature of the demands that we can ask our governments to meet on a nationwide level: to prioritize the daily concerns of ordinary people, and to stop acting like private accountants who preside in office merely to negotiate contracts for big corporations. Which means, at the very least, that our elected leaders must stop pouring billions of dollars into the machinery of war, and instead redirect the nation’s resources towards securing peoples’ essential needs and creating useful employment. What demand can be more simple: to serve the populace in its entirety, or to immediately get out and make way for those who will!

At the same time let’s be aware that there is no such thing as an American justice, but only justice per se. And the concept of freedom does not represent or belong to America alone – it represents life, wherever you are, and belongs to love itself. Such has it always been, and always will be. In this way our demands should not be confined to American national interests, which was a crucial mistake of the Occupy movement in its first manifestation. Why don’t we also uphold a vision of sharing, freedom and justice for our brothers and sisters in other countries? Why say we are the 99% of all the people in America, and not the 99% of all the 7 billion people throughout the world? We have already focused on our national priorities for as long as we can remember, but now is the time for our shared concerns to embrace the needs of the world as a whole. It’s time to ennoble ourselves with dignity when we go out in peaceful protest, and to expand our consciousness to the global level on the basis of our morality, empathy and compassion for those who are less fortunate than ourselves.

Clearly the problems that are happening in America are also happening across the world, as reflected in the mass protests that are now periodically erupting in diverse countries on an unprecedented scale. By hailing our common demands from a truly international perspective of justice and equality, we will therefore be more encouraged to see other groups doing the same in other cities overseas, and vice versa. Together we will galvanize each other to carry on participating in around-the-clock demonstrations, which is why we must protest with an urgent sense of global priorities in order to gain more and more support. This is how the youth of America can inspire the rest of the world to join them, and how the call for sharing can rapidly grow on a worldwide scale: by upholding the concerns not of the 99% of 300 million people in America, but of the 99% of 7 billion people with whom we share our planetary home.

Resurrecting Article 25

From this understanding we should adopt as our slogan Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which will naturally structure our uprisings at home and light the way for demonstrations in other countries. As the venerable Article states: “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing, medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.” Nowhere in the world are these basic rights fulfilled for everyone, and for the evident reasons we have acknowledged above – such as the laws that protect the interests of elite privilege and commercialization, and the politics of international competition that effectively renounces the founding vision of the United Nations. The covert manoeuvrings of American foreign policy is, in itself, the denial of Article 25 for many millions of the world’s people, in conjunction with the self-interested and divisive economic strategies of all the other major powers. Yet still the United States government shamelessly professes that it stands for global justice and human rights, in the midst of 40,000 people dying every day from preventable diseases and poverty. Do they take us for fools, or shall we continue to remain silent while this daily massacre endures?

If we identify ourselves with the common good of One Humanity, it is thus appropriate that we uphold Article 25 as a slogan that represents the hearts and minds of everyone in the world. We all want peace, we all want justice, we all want a clean and safe environment; but before we ask for that peace and justice for ourselves, we want to see an irrevocable end to the blasphemy of hunger and penury in a bountiful world. It is not only a question of morality and justice, but of strategy and common sense in relation to our awareness and intelligence. We’ve been fighting capitalism and the system for hundreds of years, and yet the situation is getting worse and worse for the majority poor and excluded: hence now is the time to change our tactics by advocating for Article 25 as a universal approach for transformative world change.

With millions upon millions of people in every country calling for this Article to be guaranteed by our respective governments, we cannot underestimate the uplifting effect it will have on our societies and our collective consciousness. Never before have we witnessed vast numbers of people in the street calling for the abolition of extreme poverty, as expressed in ceaseless worldwide actions of solidarity and massed goodwill. Can we envision what may happen if American activists lead the way in advocating, by this means, for international governmental policies based on the principle of sharing? We can be sure that New York City will be full of tents and non-stop protest activity, because the poor will also join in and strengthen the call for their basic rights to be fulfilled. And above all, billions of people will heed the call in other continents, from Africa and Asia to South America, because then we are talking about their lives too.

So let this be our resounding call: not to instigate a revolution ‘against’ this rotten system we live in, which becomes a nonsense when our voices get lost in the interminable fighting of ideologies and isms. The system is here to stay, in one form or another, so we should rather transform it through a wholly inclusive, indefatigable demand for what is most urgent and important: which is to immediately guarantee the human rights in Article 25 for every man, woman and child in every nation. Just imagine how easily this could be achieved if our governments were impelled by overwhelming public pressure to completely reorder their priorities, and to work in genuine cooperation with other nations to share the resources of the world. As history has often revealed, even a handful of people can create unbelievable changes on this Earth if they are in the right place at the right time with an idea whose time has come. And now is the time for us to breathe life once again into The Statue of Liberty Enlightening the World, until she drops her torch in protest and holds up a giant banner that reads: “Article 25: The True American Dream!”


I miss those tents and those occupiers who lifted my hopes upwards into the light. 

Where are you people?

I can still feel your pain and your aspirations.

I can still hear your voices in the heat of the night.

I miss your faces, your joy, your call for a new life. I miss you all.

Where are you people?

For you are the hope of all the world, if only you knew. 

Mohammed Mesbahi is founder and chair of Share the World’s Resources, a London-based independent civil society organization campaigning for a fairer sharing of wealth, power and resources within and between nations.

More from Commondreams

Empathy and Ubuntu ~ a Philosophy for a New Humanity

Jennifer Deisher | Wake Up World

Ubuntu-Empathy-the-New-Paradigm-for-HumanityHere we are on our beautiful blue green planet, travelling through time and space, hurtling toward infinity. Whether we realize it or not, we are united by our humanity.

As we each begin to flow into our spiritual journey, we become aware of a consciousness beyond our rational 3D comprehension. We begin to question everything we think we know about life and reality. We de-construct the illusions around us, and come to a new understanding of our place in the universe and beyond. And this new awareness is both liberating and extremely confronting, all at the same time.

For many of us though, there is something more. We are urged from within to become ‘messengers’ and speak our truths in the gathering shift. This requires that we be ever mindful of others, their needs, moods, experience, circumstances, and hardships, and aware of how we relate to their unique human perspective — particularly with those who on the surface may seem to give little priority to their spiritual needs.

The Hierarchy of Needs

We can understand our most basic human needs, and also our higher spiritual needs, through the psychological tool known as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs [i]. The bottom of the triangle represents our most basic physiological needs and the top represents our own Self-actualization or Self-awareness (which, not surprisingly, is represented by the “all-seeing eye” at the top of the proverbial pyramid.

A common belief is that we are spiritual beings having a human experience, and that our full potential is realized through the practices of love and empathy, and the Ubuntu philosophy. And that’s true! But we can’t ever forget that we are also human too. We have simple biological and emotional needs – such as food, water, and a sense of safety – that must be met in order for our very survival, and although there are a handful of spiritual ‘leaders’ in history who were synonymous with fasting and poverty, for most of us, we can’t even begin to understand our potential for Self-actualization or Ascension until those basic needs are met.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

So as messengers of a new paradigm, our challenge is not just to focus on the development of ‘higher’ personal aspects such as creativity, self-esteem and self-love, but to embrace and support those whose basic (and therefore spiritual) needs are not fulfilled, and help them create the sense of security and belonging they need as stepping stones to self-actualization.

Rainbow Day of Love

My friend, Deb Augenbaugh, decided to do just that when she recently started the non-profit organization Rainbow Day of Love to help feed the homeless population in her home town of Denver, Colorado. My husband, Aaron, and I had the honor of volunteering with her start-up organization this summer, and what we learned was a real lesson on our spiritual journey.

We came out on a Sunday morning to serve breakfast and as soon as breakfast was finished the group immediately formed another line for the next meal. Lesson #1: The sense of insecurity associated with unfulfilled physiological needs is ever-present, and does not go away with just one full belly. The tragedy of this situation is that these peoples’ lives are being spent trying to provide for their most basic physiological needs – quite symbolically, at the very bottom of the pyramid. In other words, they spend the whole day meeting the physiological needs of food, water, and shelter, while the rest of us take such necessities for granted and, as a society, waste the very resources these people so desperately need access to.

That Sunday morning, we struck up a chat with some people after breakfast and heard so many personal stories – war veterans, parents, college graduates – all who have experienced great hardship but are still living to tell their stories. Lesson #2: Survival instincts are hard-wired into our biology, including own need for safety. We each share the same primal instinct to live, and it’s a most natural response to do what we need to do in challenging circumstances in order to meet our most basic physiological needs. And although we may at one time be surrounded by friendship, safety and self-confidence in our lives, our physiological and safety needs that begin to go unfulfilled (whatever the circumstances) directly impact our sense of self and belonging.

Lesson #3: When we let people know that they are valued with something as simple as as smile or a hug or a question, the uplifting affect that loving connection has on their life-force (and yours) is both visible and immediate, sending ripples out into conscious universe.

A Collective Problem

As spiritual messengers and spiritual beings, we cannot speak of empathy if we are seemingly at a level of Self-actualization looking “down” at the reality of others, and dismissing their difficult experience as “creating their own reality”. But in truth, this limited perception is not based on reason or actual experience. We are ALL creating our own reality – and that creation includes a social hierarchy which is competitive by design, and therefore exclusive (to some) by result. If we – humanity – are to ascend to a new way of living, the only way to do that is TOGETHER. And yet our collective tendency is ignore their situation, and in big cities, even step over them in the street. We look to governments to “solve the unemployment problem”, which is an inherent part of our economic structure, and moan about the takers from the “welfare state”.

Not exactly conducive to a sense of safety and belonging, is it?

In reality, the majority of people living in poverty are – like the rest of us – incredibly intelligent, talented, creative and often educated people who have contributed to society, and who today are forced to use their talents and creativity just to sustain life; to survive. And that’s part of the “tragedy” – with basic needs met, their intelligence and creativity could be an amazing asset to our society! But while our society’s focus remains competitive not communal, a sense of belonging and self-realization takes a back-seat to the necessities of life for many people, and our spiritual life-force continues to vibrate on “survival” mode. While people are held by poverty at this base level of awareness, there is little room in their reality for other forms of safety, love, esteem, or self-actualization.

As enlightened beings, we have to be willing to see through the rationalizations of “the homeless problem” and our fears and misconceptions of “the homeless”, and begin to see that they too are spiritual beings who are desperately in need of our love, understanding and support.

The Empathy Card

Empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Science is finally beginning to understand what many of us have always known; that we humans are soft wired with empathy [ii]. It’s in our genetics. When we say “soft wired” it means that it isn’t a reflex like a knee jerk or a flight-fight response, rather it’s up to us to consciously exercise and utilize our empathy ‘muscle’ so we can gain a better understanding of our collective journey.

The second of the Seven Universal Laws, the immutable Law of Correspondence, tells us “As above, so below; as below, so above”. [iii] This means that we have an individual journey and a collective journey, and they are interconnected and correspond with one another in infinite synchronicity; that our outer world reflects to us our inner world; that what we choose within, we choose without.

Will you choose empathy and compassion? Or judgment and inaction?

We cannot consider ourselves a compassionate, intelligent, creative race of people until we change our relationship with homelessness and poverty in our society, and on our planet. There is certainly plenty to go around. According to www.worldhunger.org [iv]

The world produces enough food to feed everyone. World agriculture produces 17 percent more calories per person today than it did 30 years ago, despite a 70 percent population increase. This is enough to provide everyone in the world with at least 2,720 kilocalories (kcal) per person per day  according to the most recent estimate that we could find (FAO 2002, p.9). The principal problem is that many people in the world do not have sufficient land to grow, or income to purchase, enough food.

Harmful economic systems are the principal cause of poverty and hunger… Essentially control over resources and income is based on military, political and economic power that typically ends up in the hands of a minority, who live well, while those at the bottom barely survive, if they do.

As we confront the reality of increasingly harmful economic systems and government priorities, the social and spiritual inequity embedded in our social systems can seem near-impossible to overcome.

But it isn’t.

[read full post here]