Category Archives: Peace

From Kabul: Youth on the Road to Peace

In September 2019, facing everyday dangers of the war and under constant pressure to view those from other tribes as enemies, young people from each of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces gathered for a three day “On the Road to Peace” conference in Kabul.

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Despite the violent crises which we human beings have created for Afghanistan and our planet earth, I have witnessed yet again how renewing our relationships with Nature and one another can calm us, teach us, and change us.

I saw this happening among the 26 participants of the “Youth on the Road to Peace Conference” organized by the Afghan Peace Volunteers from the 18th to the 21st of September.

Participants attending “Youth on the Road to Peace Conference” in Kabul (Photo: Dr. Hakim)

The youth were rightfully feeling disheartened by the ongoing challenges in their country: war, opposing local and foreign groups in conflict, ISIS, Taliban, U.S./NATO forces, capitalism, climate-change related drought, inequality, racism, rhetoric with no action, societal and personal confusion…

Name any global problem, and we’ll find it looming in this ‘forgotten’ war-playground housing 35 million ordinary Afghans.

Since the beginning of 2019, the UN had reported “shocking and unacceptable” numbers of civilian casualties across Afghanistan, noting a big increase in the number of casualties caused by government and NATO-led troops.

(Photo: Dr.  Hakim)

So, imagine that everything is going wrong in our lives, and then, a pause and a space opens up. We get in touch with our feelings for life and people again, and our being shifts.

“We’re not even at peace with Mother Nature who gives serenity,” remarked Tamana, a 16-year-old Conference participant.

Mahdia also echoed these sentiments, “Before this Conference, I never made an effort to be kind towards Nature or to take care of her, because I never thought seriously about Nature. I have been motivated to work for Nature, for our very own survival.”

In considering their shared humanity and relationships, the youth began to think critically about their relationship to money and power. Kamal was visibly shaken by life’s very basic questions. “Our humanity doesn’t require religion, race or nationality. Money is imaginary, and at our deaths, we will not regret having little money. We shouldn’t work for ourselves, but for the people and the world.”

Over just four days, their humanity arose above the barriers of culture, language, political divisions, and the distrust and bad vibes generated by an ongoing war. “We have two things in common among everyone, humanity and relationships.” Ali Sina spoke with conviction. While Ali is engaged to someone from his ethnic group, he had exhorted the participants to consider inter-ethnic marriages as a way to break ethnic borders.

Kamran reflected in Pashhto, “I used to think of Afghans as Pashtuns, Uzbeks, Hazaras or Tajik. But now, I believe that we are all human beings!”

What about all the blood feuds, revenge and endless cycles of retaliatory violence over the past five decades of war?

Sakina, a 12th grade student, said, “We are human beings who are not perfect, so we should forgive one another.” This is radical, especially in the light of generational prejudices among other ethnic groups. For Sakina’s ethnic group of Hazaras, this discrimination extended especially to Pashtuns like Maiwand, who was standing across from her in a circle. Maiwand, also a 12th grade student, agreed, “I’ve learned the important life lesson of ample forgiving. Forgiveness can prevent other persons from being killed in revenge.”

A circle of conference participants holding a web of blue thread (Photo: Dr. Hakim)

Shahdab, a Tajik university undergraduate, described how a web of blue thread held between the circle’s participants was an example of unity, “If I let go of the thread, it will weaken the unity that we have now.”

Sohrab said in Uzbeki, “Youth are the future of a country, and should be nurtured to be like medicines for the illnesses of their country.”

Anis Gul resounded, “We shouldn’t live as we did in the past or like our forefathers, but as a new generation, we should think differently!”

However badly the Afghan war has affected each of these youth, they are ‘hardwired’ to pursue relationships. I was moved by the quiet but revolutionary power of reconnecting with nature, and with one another.

A video made to accompany this article.

Climate and the Little Green Women and Men

The Little Green Women and Men (LGWM) are us, humanoids, especially those living in the west, believing we command Mother Earth. Well, no wonder, there is a group among us, who claims to be “God’s Chosen People” – and they act it all the way. So much so, that they and their influence on LGWMs, have almost managed to dominate all the women, men and resources of Mother Earth.

Humanoids, LGWMs, are easily manipulated. They have chosen to be green, because “green” is IN. They are ‘little’, because in the big scheme of things, as compared to Mother Nature, for example, they are diminutive. Very.  Yet, they pretend to command the climate. Green parties all over the western world are multiplying fast; almost like the legendary grain on a chessboard. They are called green but they come in all shades, from brown to green to red, and everything in between. In Germany the Greens have become so popular that during the next elections they may catch up to 30 % of the votes.

Question is: What will they do when they come to real power, when they are in Government, confronted with the interests of big business? Will they bend over, cave in – as did the Socialist parties throughout Europe during the last half of the 20th Century?

Today, one has to be green to belong. Who is green, (pretends) fighting for the environment, for the protection of the environment – which is good, per se. But fighting for the environment is not a linear affair, as they, the LGWMs, are made to believe, and many of them believe, as “science” tells them to believe. When they believe, they create a comfort zone for themselves, where guilt disappears. They don’t question anymore. THE authority, called “science”, tells them the “facts” to believe. And if they do, they are almost absolved from guilt.

Almost – because to be really absolved in our western ultra-capitalist world, only money can really absolve you. So, they – or we, collectively, whether we believe in the propaganda or not (fortunately some of us don’t), will be asked to pay – to pay environmental fees and taxes of all kinds and shapes. To be more attractive they may be called ‘climate taxes’ for using fossil fuel, for buying plastic, for flying in airplanes, for consuming no end and-so-on. Hardly anybody asks what will be done with this new tax money.

As it cannot stop climate from changing, it will most likely end up in private banks, mostly Wall Street banks, where the billions collected will grow into speculative multi-trillions-dollar bubbles. And we know what eventually happens with bubbles. We all remember the Carbon Funds, which apparently are not dead yet, but will rather be resuscitated in this new fervor to fight climate change.

Stamped by our western Judeo-Christian guilt culture, we truly believe from the bottom of our hearts that paying a climate tax will free us from environmental responsibilities and put us back into our comfort zones. We then comfortably and guiltlessly continue driving our huge gas guzzling, CO2-emitting SUVs. That’s why the corporate manipulators — BIG-BIG money and their media — tells us every day, the Climate Armageddon is coming. So, we pay to postpone it.

It was coming already at the first UN-sponsored Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) of 1992 which was extended to the Kyoto Protocol of 1997, an international treaty that commits state parties to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, based on scientific consensus that (1) global warming is occurring and (2) it is extremely likely that human-made CO2 emissions have predominantly caused it. The Kyoto Protocol was adopted in Kyoto, Japan, on 11 December 1997, by 192 nations. The Protocol entered into force on 16 February 2005.

But despite all the warnings of Armageddon, nothing has happened. Even if mankind was responsible for the CO2 production that changes climate, mankind, or rather the LGWMs, have ignored it. Climate Armageddon is still written all over the walls. But it moves from wall to wall, further into the future, as nobody seems to be interested in preventing it.

After Kyoto followed Copenhagen, the next UN-sponsored Climate Change Conference, also called the Copenhagen Summit, in December 2009. Similar discourse, and new targets were set and propagated; billions of dollars were pledged by governments – but few paid-in, mostly because already then it was not quite clear who should administer the funds and who should invest in what and where to stop the climate from changing. Copenhagen also coined the 350-slogan. It stands for 350 ppm (parts per million) of carbon dioxide (CO2) which has been identified as the safe upper limit to avoid a climate tipping point. As of today, there is climate NGO called 350.org.

In 2019, CO2 is expected to pass the 410-ppm level.

As per the New Scientist (25 January 2019), carbon dioxide levels will soar past the 410 ppm milestone in 2019. We will pass yet another unwelcome milestone this year. The average concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is likely to rise by 2.8 parts per million to 411 ppm in 2019 – passing 410 ppm just a few years after first passing the 400 ppm mark.

No stopping of climate change is happening and Armageddon is moving on.

What this climate movement doesn’t seem to understand, or those that manage it do not want the world to know, that climate is a complex structure of ever shifting values and natural phenomena; that climate is influenced by many factors which are all inter-related and orders of magnitude more important than what man can ever contribute. There is the sun with its constantly changing eruptions and radiation emissions, perhaps the most important influence; then the oceans, while they absorb CO2, they also emit CO2 – and most important according to a 30-year NASA study the oceans themselves change temperatures in natural intervals of roughly ten years, which is called El Niño in the Pacific and the North Atlantic Oscillation in the Atlantic. They are responsible for large-scale weather patterns, also orders of magnitude larger than what man could ever create. In addition, there are the volcanos around the world, many of which are active. A massive eruption of one of them; i.e., Iceland, the Philippines, Italy, Hawaii may produce a multiple of CO2 levels of what man produces in one year.

And we should also be aware of what is not much talked about, that the US Air Force, the US Navy, the University of Alaska and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), have developed since the sixties a weather control-program that functions with electromagnetic waves emitted in the Ionosphere, altering ionospheric temperatures to create specific weather patterns. The intention is to weaponize the weather so as to control entire regions by weather, floods, droughts, hurricanes… you name it. This program has been tested and applied during the Vietnam war, when it was capable to prolong and enhance the Monsoon season, so as the paths the Vietcong used to transit from the North to the South were made impassable. That is really man-made.

The program used to be called HAARP (High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program) and was stationed in Alaska. It has now nominally been dismantled, but continuous more clandestinely to be sophisticated enough to allow the US to control the world’s weather by 2030, according to the Pentagon.

Talking about military and climate – the wars and conflicts mostly inspired by the US and carried out by the Pentagon, NATO or their mercenary proxies — cause more than half of the man-made CO2 emissions. This is a fact that may never be discussed in these UN-sponsored climate conferences — a strict rule imposed by Washington.

These are just a few climate-influencing elements, the composite of which is much larger than each one acting linearly on its own, because they are all inter-related, they are all acting holistically and dynamically – in other words, not predictably – and with a power orders of magnitude larger than CO2 by itself, let alone man-made CO2 which is but a tiny fraction of all greenhouse gases produced by nature. And these ever-occurring climate changes, are well controlled by nature, as NASA’s Earth Observatory found out by studying the oceans for over 30 years (). They are kept in balance by our Mother Earth, no matter how much we would like to influence them.

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Notice this: We are today threatened by nuclear war, a nuclear war that could wipe out mankind within a few days – yet we talk and demonstrate for climate change prevention, man-made CO2 reduction. Public Icon, the Swedish teenager, Greta, and her followers, the Friday for the Future kids and those that call themselves “Extinction Rebellion”, take to the streets in so-called climate strikes by the hundreds of thousands throughout the world.

Seriously, imagine the use of CO2-producing fossil fuel and an industrial agriculture infesting the atmosphere with greenhouse gases, the engine for 90% of the world’s economy – and let’s not forget the CO2 produced by wars and hostilities around the globe – all of which is also the engine for huge corporate profits!  Does anyone seriously believe that hundreds of thousands, or even millions, demonstrating against climate change  will have an iota of influence on corporate behavior and profit oriented growth policies?

These kids – the LGWMs – are dreaming. Most of them anyway. Some of their leaders are directed by the same corporations they pretend to fight and to demonstrate against. Generally, the LGWM movement doesn’t have a clear agenda, other than talking loosely and abstractly about CO2 reduction. But they don’t really know how to go about it and what this means, what steps need to be taken and by whom, what implications and consequences this would have for our today’s civilization and every-day life, yes, theirs too, the climate kids’ every-day life. Thy have no program of what has to change; they just believe the change has to come from ‘outside’; i.e., the politicians. No idea either that these same politicians are captured by the same industrial, financial and specifically the war industrial complex and that this highly capitalist money-making machinery also commands the propaganda apparatus on which they drive and thrive.

These climate folks managed to organize a special UN Climate event preceding the 2019 UN General Assembly, during which the most powerful and obnoxious representatives of nations and heads of states, notably of the US of A, talked aggression no end to those countries that do not bend to their orders and do not want to submit their people and natural resources for exploitation and profit of the western elite. In the special firing line are the usual condemned and sanctioned – but almost the only true sovereign countries left on this globe – Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, North Korea – and, of course, Russia and China.

Instead of seeking peace, the essence of the UN Charter, the UN has become a forum for war declarations and climate change. If ever man wants to make a true contribution to climate change, it can only be done by PEACE, through peaceful cooperation and solidarity among nations across the globe.

The LGWM movement has to wake up to a reality which is not propaganda-based and has to do with our behavior, with our entire attitude, with our socioeconomic system, with a turbo-capitalist system that is growth-based with ever larger profit margins. The system to survive has to expand every day, every year.  It induces extreme consumerism, thrives on fashion trends, and on generation of massive waste, most of which is not biodegradable, but accumulates and – yes, influences our ambiance, living conditions – and eventually being part of a holistic world, also influences the climate.

We are living in a throw-away society, driven by an industrial apparatus that uses obsolescence as a tool for consumerism and growth, to generate more profit, no matter how much more non-renewable resources will have to be sacrificed and wasted – ending up as waste, rotting away, polluting the air we breathe, the soil we use to grow our food and the water – the all-important water, without which no life is possible.

To slow down and eventually stop the rapid decline of our existence on this lovely and generous planet, we ALL have to contribute in solidarity to PEACE. A life in peace is a sine qua non for improving our planet’s environment and thereby our sheer living conditions, quality of life, and foremost to bring about more societal equality, less poverty a better distribution of wealth. All of this requires a massive awakening, an awakening towards a consciousness that is immune to egocentricity to fake propaganda that is 180 degrees opposite to the current selfie-culture.

In the 1950s, I’m old enough to remember, we wrote letters to our friends and relatives, shopped in corner grocery stores, bought beverages in recycled glass bottles, filled our staple food from bulk containers into recycled paper bags, and wrapped fresh vegetables into newspapers (not plastic), went to public phone booths to call our girlfriends, walked, or biked to school, and if at all, our parents had small cars, no SUVs, prepared our sandwiches for school, used the same cloths for years, talked with each other eye-to-eye, enjoyed nature.

Today, nature is the same in the city or the countryside, because we stumble through nature wherever we go watching the little screen of an obsolescence disposable smartphone, with which we chat, smile and also make some phone calls. Then, in the post WWII fifties, our lives were more modest and happier. Then, we consumed less than what Mother Earth could sustainably provide us with. In the 1960s we started exceeding that threshold. Today, we, in the west, use three to four times what nature can give us (Africa about 0.6) and that for sure will not go on forever.

Perhaps we have to think about jumping forward to a life style of the fifties and that consciously and conscientiously – and we won’t have to worry about 350-ppm CO2 as the limit for sustainable climate, because it will happen naturally and climate change will continue to happen naturally, as it always did for 4 billion years of our planet’s existence and never bothered us. And most importantly, we have to learn to consciously remind ourselves that we are a solidary peaceful society, and we have to consciously disconnect from MSM, turn off our ears to the ever blaring and lying media propaganda lyrics. Consciousness is our integrity and base for social cohesiveness.

• First published by the New Eastern Outlook – NEO

An electronic umbilical cord

The lifeblood of alternative radio is sometimes the celebrity that they create among themselves. And on Monday, October 7, Lincoln County’s KYAQ radio station will welcome one of the biggest stars from the bottom of the dial as David Barsamian visits Newport, Oregon on his Rise Up and Resist tour.

Barsamian grew up in New York, the son of Armenian refugees who fled the genocide unleashed in Turkey by the Ottoman government from 1915 to 1917. More than 1.5 million people were murdered.

191004_oct_David-Barsamian-speaking-at-SLO-Grange-Hall.jpg

The 74 year old will be at Oregon Coast Community College talking to the Central Coast as part of his contribution to an evening of “inspiration.”

I will be drawing on not only my experiences, but those historical examples of people fighting back with sometimes dangerous and deadly consequences.

Barsamian and I talked via phone while he finished his regular bike ride and settled into one of his favorite Boulder, Colorado, coffee shops, Beleza, which in Portuguese means beautiful.

From growing up in the neighborhoods of New York, where he tells me he ditched school and barely graduated from high school, Barsamian enrolled in San Francisco State before dropping out after a year and then signing up to crew a Norwegian freighter out of San Francisco. He ended up in East and Southeast Asia for two years and then three years in India.

He learned the sitar, and embedded himself in the cultural cornucopia of India.  “I was surrounded by some of that country’s greatest musicians and poets”, he said. “I learned so much, including Urdu, Hindi and Bengali. It was like getting a graduate education in South Asian Studies.”

He got back to the US in 1970, finding work in Pakistani and Indian restaurants playing sitar, as well as teaching English to private students first in Rockefeller Center and later in the World Trade Center.

While David Barsamian is not a household name, his Alternative Radio out of KGNU-Boulder is syndicated to more than 250 stations in the country. He has interviewed heavy hitters of the intellectual, writer, scholarly variety, again, many not household names.

Barsamian is a touchstone for most supporters of alternative radio — sort of like IF Stone for some, or Studs Terkel for others, and really more like a cross between Edward R. Murrow and Gore Vidal.

Mile High With a Sitar and Eastern Sensibility

We are talking 1978, when he ended up in Boulder just after the radio station opened. Barsamian volunteered at the public station, making a living teaching ESL, Hindi and performing music. His first show was a music program, “Ganges to the Nile.” His sitar playing and knowledge of India and Eastern music helped.

Alas, when I ask Barsamian if there was a moment in his life when he realized he would be following a path less traveled in the US, he tells me there isn’t.

I’ve been a rebel since I can remember. I’ve always questioned authority, beginning with my parents. With the shadow of genocide hanging over our family, I wanted to learn more.

That included reading books at a young age, and listening to talk shows on the radio coming from his hometown, New York City.

Radio back then was quite a sober affair. Nothing like what we have now with all this shouting and screaming.

He has stated many times that founding Alternative Radio was his personal attempt to meet the goals of public broadcasting:

To serve as a forum for controversy and debate. To provide a voice for groups that may otherwise be unheard.

As an activist myself, I am always challenged with bringing voices like Barsamian’s to my communities – homeless veterans, just-released prisoners, students in military compounds, adults in night school at the many community colleges where I have taught.

In a kind of parallel universe, David Barsamian states the same rational I have used to bring great voices and minds – many times very alternative, outside the box – to my clients and students as he too purports his battle is against mainstream media oversimplifying debate and shutting out so many important voices. “It was unacceptable that many of this country’s greatest and most articulate radical voices had no forum on public radio”, Barsamian said. “Alternative Radio was created to be the vehicle for progressive perspectives that are otherwise ignored or given short shrift.”

Radio Waves on the Pacific

For Franki Trujillo-Dalbey, board president of KYAQ-91.7 FM and sponsor of Barsamian’s trip to Newport, there are not enough alternative voices out there giving listeners a sense of other countries’ perspectives and the unfiltered history of our own country.

Trujillo-Dalbey proudly states this is the third trip to the Central Coast for this radio personality who also has more than 20 books and a few documentary credits to his name.

A regular contributor to Sun Magazine, Barsamian just finished an interview of Bill McKibben, author of the 1989 book, The End of Nature, and one of the co-founders of 350.org.

Drawing from that October Sun Magazine interview of McKibben on the heels of the release of this environmentalist’s new book, Falter: Has the Human Game Begun to Play Itself Out? Barsamian poses a rhetorical point sure to be broached liberally at his October 7 talk in Newport:

In your new book, Falter, you talk about how scientists at both Exxon and NASA confirmed that climate change was occurring back in the 1980s.

The radio personality declares he has limited time for a telephone interview, as he is working on an essay by an Iranian writer for a new book of essays ReTargeting Iran — interviews with Ervand Abrahamian, Christopher de Bellaigue, Noam Chomsky, Nader Hashemi, Trita Parsi and Laura Secor. “At the Newport event I hope to be drawing on the energy and strength from voices like these and others questioning authority and the status quo”, he said.

An electronic umbilical cord

I had just listened to Vijay Prashad, director of Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research and chief editor of LeftWord Books, on Democracy Now, aired daily on KYAQ. His latest article for Salon is headlined, “World leaders gather at the UN in the face of war, climate catastrophe & global worker exploitation.”

That was a 10-minute interview. David Barsamian just completed a two-hour interview with Prashad, talking about Kashmir, the eco-crisis, neoliberalism’s attack on all sectors of the world, “and a whole range of international issues.”

We talk about Vijay being one of the amazing contemporary voices with deep intellectual acumen and knowledge of a vast range of issues.

“Vijay is in the same mold as Tariq Ali and Edward Said.” Tariq is a British political activist, writer, journalist, historian, filmmaker and public intellectual. He is a member of the editorial committee of the New Left Review and Sin Permiso. Said (1935-2003) was a professor of literature at Columbia University, a public intellectual, and a founder of the academic field of postcolonial studies. A Palestinian American born in Palestine, he was a citizen of the US by way of his father, a US Army veteran.

There is no mincing words when one broaches the Donald Trump presidency and chaos to Barsamian:  “Trump is taking up too much oxygen in the room,” he said. “I am more concerned with Christian radical Mike Pence (Vice President) waiting in the wings.

For several decades, 90-year-old Noam Chomsky — author of more than a hundred books, MIT linguistics scholar and considered the left’s go-to public intellectual – has been featured on Barsamian’s shows and in the related books of collected Chomsky-Barsamian interviews.

I was just with him in Tucson, and Noam didn’t miss a beat. He was razor sharp in 80 minutes.

The Chomsky-Barsamian radio relationship started more than 33 years ago, with Barsamian’s show, “Hemispheres,” a political program. It was a two-and-a-half-hour program with Noam Chomsky which Barsamian uplinked to the public radio satellite. Back then, most radio stations preferred half-hour or one-hour segments, although a few stations picked up the program. It was that long conversation with Chomsky that birthed Alternative Radio.

For many followers of Barsamian, they know he has accolades for Bernie Sanders, presidential candidate and senator from Vermont. “I interviewed him when he was first elected to the House of Representatives, when he was still mayor of Burlington.” Barsaminan, however, doesn’t spend much time interviewing politicians because, in his words, they already have a platform and bully pulpit.

Country Roads, He Calls Home

Boulder, Colorado, has been more than a radio station location for Barsamian. He calls it home, and is seeing more locals developing socialist collectives, community supported agriculture and farmers markets, co-housing, or collective housing.

For Barsamian, it may be two steps forward and three steps backward for progressives. However, he sees righteousness in the struggle. He quoted American statesman Daniel Webster:

Justice, sir, is the great interest of man on Earth. It is the ligament which holds civilized beings and civilized nations together.

The list of people on Barsamian’s radio show is impressive – Vandana Shiva, Arundhati Roy, Ralph Nader, Edward Said and so many others. Interviewing his mother, Araxie, and other witnesses of the Armenian Genocide was a pivotal moment.

The genocide trauma his mother expressed was what Barsamian calls the most difficult interview of his life. However, that discomfort helped him heal and his mother deal with difficult personal and political history.

From that day forward, Barsamian dedicated his life to listening to unheard voices. While those voices are definitely important to true democracy, as Howard Zinn wrote in the Peoples’ History of the United States and Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz writes in  An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States, this retelling gives the narrator holistic healing through the very conduit of communication. “I have been lucky to have connected with a whole galaxy of social activists and authors”, Barsamian tells me. “It is a kind of a gift of an electronic umbilical cord.”

For anyone interested in a deeper look at the construction and deconstruction of American democracy, David Barsamian has had a front row seat with history makers. He has been one of the clearer voices critiquing American media, also known as the press:

Corporate media are largely weapons of mass distraction. Language is manipulated to manufacture consent and to limit the bounds of permissible thought. A golden Rolodex of so-called experts produces a mono-chromatic one-note samba of drivel. That’s one reason I started Alternative Radio out of my house many years ago. You can’t simply whine and complain. You need to come up with positive alternatives that give people hope.

Note: For anyone willing to take a ride on the alternative side, and push aside American exceptionalist mythology, curb blind patriotism and listen to someone who has been with history’s great minds, coming out to the Newport, Oregon, event, 7 p.m. on Monday, October 7, at Oregon Coast Community College, 400 SE College Way, will be well worth the suggested $10 donation at the door.

At UN Session, US Empire In Decline And Global Solidarity On The Rise

As the United Nations General Assembly conducts its fall session, Popular Resistance is in New York City for the People’s Mobilization to Stop the US War Machine and Save the Planet. Themes of the mobilization are connecting militarism and climate change and raising awareness that the United States regularly violates international laws, including the United Nations Charter. These laws are designed to facilitate peaceful relationships between countries and prevent abuses of human rights. It is time that the US be held accountable.

The People’s Mobilization arose out of the Embassy Protection Collective after the US government raided the Venezuelan Embassy in Washington DC last May in blatant violation of the Vienna Convention to install a failed coup and arrested Embassy Protectors even though they were in the embassy with the permission of the elected government of Venezuela. This was an escalation of US regime change efforts – the coup failed in Venezuela but the US recognized the coup leader and started turning Venezuela’s assets over to him anyway. Members of the Collective sought to bring the message that it is dangerous for the world and a threat to the future of all of us if the US continues on its lawless path.

Join the Embassy Protection Defense Committee to organize around the federal prosecution of the final four Embassy Protectors and donate to their legal defense. Take action here.

We participated in the Climate Strike on Friday where our messages about the impact of US militarism on climate were well-received. On Sunday, we held a rally in Herald Square and on Monday, we held a public event: “A Path to International Peace: Realizing the Vision of the United Nations Charter.” We need to build an international people’s movement that complements work the Non-Aligned Movement and others are doing to bring countries together that are dedicated to upholding international law and take action together to address global crises.

In front of the United Nations after the rally and march with our message (By Yuka Azuma).

The US Military is a Great Threat to our Future

We wrote about the connections between militarism and the climate crisis in our newsletter a few weeks ago so we won’t go too deeply into those details here. The US military is the largest single user of fossil fuels and creator of greenhouse gases on the planet.

It also leaves behind toxic pollution from burn pits and weapons such as depleted uranium (DU). The use of DU violates international law, including the Biological Weapons Convention. As described in David Swanson’s article about a new study, which documents the horrific impact of DU on newborns in Iraq, “…every round of DU ammunition leaves a residue of DU dust on everything it hits, contaminating the surrounding area with toxic waste that has a half-life of 4.5 billion years, the age of our solar system, and turns every battlefield and firing range into a toxic waste site that poisons everyone in such areas.”

The US military poisons the air, land, and water at home too. Pat Elder, also with World Beyond War, has been writing, speaking and organizing to raise awareness of the use of Per and Poly Fluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) by the military across the US and the deadly effects it has. Elder states that the military claims to have “sovereign immunity” from environmental laws. In other words, the US military can poison whomever and wherever it chooses without risk of legal consequences.

As scary as the climate crisis and a toxic environment are, another existential threat is a nuclear war. The US military is upgrading its nuclear weapons so it can use them. The US National Security Strategy is “Great Power Conflict” and the new National Security Adviser to Trump, taking John Bolton’s place, Robert C. O’Brien, advocates for more military spending, a larger military and holding on to US global domination. These are dangerous signs. How far is the US military willing to go as US empire clings to its declining influence in the world?

In “Iran, Hong Kong and the Desperation of a Declining US Empire,” Rainer Shea writes, “There’s a term that historians use for this reactive phase that empires go through during their final years: micro-militarism.” Alfred McCoy defines micro-militarism as “ill-advised military misadventures… [that] involve psychologically compensatory efforts to salve the sting of retreat or defeat by occupying new territories, however briefly and catastrophically.”

Micro-militarism is on display in Venezuela, where the US has been trying for two decades to overthrow the Bolivarian Process without success. It is on display in US antagonism of Iran, a country that has never attacked the US and that upheld its end of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. When the US called for countries to join its escalation of military presence in the Straits of Hormuz, there was little enthusiasm from European allies. And when the US tried to blame the attack on Saudi oil refineries on Iran, even Japan refused to go along. Now, Iran is participating in INSTEX, a mechanism for trade that bypasses institutions controlled by the US.

Micro-militarism is manifested in the US’ failed attempts to antagonize China. With KJ Noh, we wrote an Open Letter to Congress, explaining why the Hong Kong Human Rights Act must be stopped as it will further entangle the US with Hong Kong and Mainland China, providing a foundation for US regime change campaign there. As China celebrates 70 years as the Peoples Republic of China, which ended over a century of exploitation by imperialists, it is in a very strong position and indicates it has no interest in caving in to US pressure. Instead, China is building its military and global relationships to rival US hegemony.

Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese at the People’s Mobe Rally (Photo by Ellen Davidson).

Holding the US Accountable

Micro-militarism is a symptom of the ailing US empire. We are in a period where the US military and government behave in irrational ways, consuming US resources for wars and conflicts that cannot be won instead of using them to meet basic needs of people and protection of the planet. The US is blatantly violating international laws that make regime change, unilateral coercive measures (aka sanctions) and military aggression illegal.

The US is conducting economic terrorism against scores of nations through illegal unilateral coercive measures (sanctions).  In the case of Cuba, the economic blockade goes back nearly six decades since the nation overthrew a US-backed regime there. The US blockade cost Cuba $4.3 billion in 2019, and close to $1 trillion over the past six decades, taking into account depreciation of the dollar. In Iran, sanctions have existed since their independence from the Shah of Iran’s US dictatorship in 1979 and in Zimbabwe, sanctions go back to land reform that occurred at the beginning of this century. The United States is conducting ongoing regime change campaigns in multiple nations among them Venezuela, Nicaragua, Iran and now Bolivia.

The US is also abusing its power as the host country of the United Nations by ordering diplomats out of the country for spurious reasons and curtailing the travel of diplomats of countries the US is targeting. This week, the US ordered two Cuban diplomats to leave the United States. The reason was vague; i.e., their “attempts to conduct influence operations against the US.” This undefined phrase could mean almost anything and puts all diplomats at risk if they speak in the US outside of the UN. We expect this is one reason diplomatic representatives from some of the countries that planned to participate in the Monday night event stayed away.

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza was the first Foreign Minister to be sanctioned while he was in the United States on official business.  Arreaza was sanctioned on April 25, just after he spoke to the United Nations General Assembly as a representative of the Non-Aligned Movement denouncing the US’ attempts to remove representatives of the sovereign nation of Venezuela from the UN.

On July 30, the US imposed sanctions on Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif saying he was targeted because he is a ‘key enabler of Ayatollah Khamenei’s policies.’  Does that mean the Foreign Minister was punished for representing Iran? When Zarif came to the UN for official business this July 14, the US took the unusual step of severely restricting his travel, limiting him to travel between the United Nations, the Iranian UN mission, the Iranian UN ambassador’s residence, and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. Traditionally, diplomatic officials were allowed a 25-mile radius around Columbus Circle. The US said Zarif “is a mouthpiece of an autocracy that suppresses free speech” and suppressed his freedom of speech in response.

As the United States becomes more brazen and ridiculous in its attempts to stay in control, it is driving other countries to turn away from the US and organize around it. There are growing calls for the United Nations to consider leaving the US and reestablish itself in a location where the US cannot sanction people for its own political purposes. Perhaps there is a need for a new international institution that does not enable US domination.

Civil society panel at the Path to International Peace event (by Ellen Davidson).

People are Uniting For Peace, Security and Sustainable Development 

The US’ actions point to the need for peace and justice activists to build an international network to demand the upholding the rule of law. Popular Resistance and its allies are contributing to the formation of that transnational solidarity structure through the new Global Appeal for Peace.

This July, delegations from 120 countries of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) united to oppose US policy against Venezuela and demand an end to sanctions as part of The Caracas Declaration.  NAM was founded in 1961 and the UN General Secretary described the importance of the movement highlighting that “two-thirds of the United Nations members and 55% of the world’s population” are represented by it, making it the second-largest multinational body in the world after the UN.

From August 29 through September 6, 38 countries and hundreds of foreign and local companies participated in Syria’s 61st Damascus International Fair despite the threat of US economic sanctions against corporations and countries that participated. The Damascus International Fair is considered the Syrian economy’s window to the world, re-started in 2017 after a 5-year hiatus due to the war against Syria. Despite a NATO bombing of the Fair in 2017, people kept coming and the Fair has continued.

Countries are also working to find ways around US economic warfare by not using the US dollar or the US financial industry to conduct trade. China is challenging the US by investing $400 billion in Iran’s oil and gas industry over 25 years and has added $3 billion investment in Venezuelan oil in 2019. Russia has also allied with Venezuela providing military equipment, and porting Navy ships in Venezuela as well as providing personnel. France has called on the EU to reset its relationship with Russia, and Germany and Russia are beginning to work together to preserve the Iran nuclear agreement.

The Global Appeal for Peace is uniting people to demand of our governments in their interactions with all nations – for the sake of world peace, international security and peaceful co-existence  – to respect the principles of the United Nations Charter and to follow and defend international law. The Global Appeal urges people to immediately join this initiative and help redirect the world toward an era of global stability and cooperation.

Sign on to the Global  Appeal for Peace: Take action to tell your government to respect and uphold the United Nations Charter as a tool for maintaining peace, guaranteeing human rights and protecting the sovereignty of nations.

We seek to build a transnational movement that is multi-layered. People and organizations from civil society representing different sectors, e.g. laborers, academics, doctors, lawyers, engineers, as well as representatives of governments impacted by violations of international law by the United States, need to join together. The seeds of such a network have been planted and are sprouting. If this transnational network develops and the rule of law is strengthened internationally, we will be able to achieve the goals of peace, economic sustainability, and human rights and mitigate the impacts of a dying empire gone rogue.

Watch part of the People’s Mobe Rally here:

 Watch the People’s Mobe March here:

Watch the “Path to International Peace” here:

Peace versus Climate

Monday, 23 September, the UN in New York hosted a special meeting on Climate Change. There were massive predominantly youth demonstrations of tens of thousands around the globe, many of them in New York, one of them led by Greta Thunberg, the Swedish 16-year-old climate activist, who is sponsored mostly by Soros and his clan to travel around the world and address world leaders to act on climate change – preventing climate change, stop climate change. Others with the same objective, called “Friday’s for the Future”, originated in Germany, students striking every Friday – meaning literally not going to school, on behalf of stopping climate change.

And there is yet another international group, the “Extinction Rebellion” (ER). They all are against the use of hydrocarbons as a major energy resource. Me too. But what’s the alternative? Do they promote and push for active research in, for example, solar energy? Not that I have heard of. There is no viable revolution without a viable alternative that has ever been successful.

The worldwide spill-over is apparently enormous. On Saturday some youth groups met with UN Secretary General, António Guterres, telling him that Climate Change is the world’s political issue number ONE. Mr. Guterres did not contradict, yes, it was a key problem and had to be addressed and world leaders needed to commit to take actions. The UN General assembly will further dedicate part of its program to Climate Change.

Wait a minute!  Climate Change number ONE?  How about PEACE? Nobody thought about that? Not even Guterres, whose mandate it is to lead the world body towards conflict solutions that bring PEACE. This is the very mandate that the UN has been founded on. Not climate, but PEACE.

Have these western kids, mostly from better-off families, been brainwashed to the extent that they do not realize that the world has other priorities, namely, stop the indiscriminate killing, by never ending US-launched and instigated wars around the globe?

Do they not realize that their brothers and sisters in Syria, Yemen, Palestine, Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kashmir, and in many more places of conflict and extreme poverty, are being killed left and right by the US-NATO killing machine, by famine, by war-related diseases, and by US vassal states, the very nations from where they, the rich kids, come to protest against climate change, but NOT against war? When do they wake up to reality? Maybe never, or when it’s too late — when even they are being bombed by the never-ending neoliberal greed-driven wars.

Do they know that these wars and conflicts, carried out directly or through proxies by US-NATO forces, have killed between 20 and 25 million people since WWII alone, and between 12 and 15 million since 9/11? Isn’t stopping this killing more important than vouching for a cause that arrogant human kind cannot stop simply because climate change has been part of nature of the last 4 billion years of Mother Earth’s existence.

But it’s typical for mankind’s arrogance to believe and especially make believe to the masses that we, they, have the power to influence Mother Earth’s climate, and who says Mother Earth, say Universe, because all is connected, and if we want to look very close, we have to look at our sun which has enormous influence on our climate, much more than we want to admit; our sun, the source of life on earth together with water resources – that’s what we have to protect – and work for PEACE.

Screaming and hollering for something where mankind is impotant to do anything about is a waste of energy, but also a deviation from the real issue: How to stop war and achieve world PEACE. And even if we could influence climate, let’s just assume for a moment we could change the course of climate – do you, Greta and the Friday kids, the ER movement and perhaps you too, Mr. Guterres – know that these wars that kill millions of people, are the largest Co2 / greenhouse gas producers by far, and this is pointing the finger straight to the US – NATO military complex, more than half!  And do you know, that up to now, none of the climate conferences — of these international glamour events, where politicians talk, promise but never follow their promises — that the military / war-caused Co2 pollution is never allowed to be addressed in these conferences?  So, what good do they do?

Do you also know that the half a dozen or so huge climate conferences that cost a fortune for zilch, have brought absolutely no change to climate whatsoever?  First, because they can’t, since we are not the masters over Mother Earth, thanks god! And, second, because the politicians, especially in the western world, those that we call our leaders, are in bed with the corporate and finance key polluters? They are bought by them, the huge profit-making industries; profits they would not be able to make without the almost indiscriminate use of hydrocarbons. Our politicians, “leaders” (sic) would never even dare talking seriously about legislation that would prevent them from contaminating our atmosphere with greenhouse gases. No, never! Not in the turbo-capitalist private sector dominated west.

At every one of these conferences Armageddon is being painted on the wall – in 5 years, 10 years, in 30 years in the best of cases – well, more than 20 years have passed since the first UN-sponsored Conference on Climate Change in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997, and we are still ticking, still propagating the same slogans, still spreading the same fear mongering: temps will rise by 3 degrees, by 5 degrees, but they are allowed only to rise by 2.5 degrees C – says WE, the masters of the universe. WOW!  Doesn’t that sound a bit arrogant when you think about it?

But, in case you didn’t know, dear Greta crowd and Friday kids, and ER drive; and you Mr. Guterres too, PEACE is more important, frankly, than climate change. PEACE is and ought to be number ONE of our political agenda, of the UN agenda. Climate will happen with or without us; yes, it changes, it changes all the time. But get this, we humans, can’t stop it from changing. What this climate hype does, is allowing and prompting a plethora of new taxes, polluter taxes to be collected from the common people, from you and me.

Corporations will be exempt from them. They may be asked to pay a carbon tax into a carbon fund (nothing new) and will profit from it, as they will be allowed to further pollute. This means shuffling again trillions of dollars up the ladder from the poor to the rich, as always happens when the corporate finance-dominated west wants to milk some more accumulated social capital from the working class to the upper echelons. And climate is an excellent tool for it. Mr. Soros, you got it once again right. But you, Mr. Guterres, have been elected to lead the world through the UN system to PEACE, not to stop the climate from changing.

Trillions are being collected; they will end up in the banks, or in the coffers of nations; they will become yet another derivative to be blown into a balloon that is predestined to burst one day,  and the system collapses again. We know about these bubbles but keep creating new ones. Does anybody dare to ask, or want to know what will be done with these newly collected trillions? How are they going to be applied to stop the climate from changing?

Nobody really cares. Once we guilt-driven Judeo-Christians have paid our dues, our conscience goes to rest and we sleep well again, while nothing changes. Not climate change, nothing.

There may be better ideas, Mr. Guterres.  If you want to do something for PEACE and for the environment, why not a special conference on banning plastic, the production of useless plastic – plastic as in plastic bottles, plastic bags – billions being used per day and less than 3% are recycled, the rest ends up in the seas, in stomachs of fish and birds, in our own bodies in the form of micro- or nano-plastic. Stop plastic for packaging food and all sorts of consumables – packaged in plastic – unnecessarily so. Why? Because you would have to convert a whole plastic packaging industry, bottling industry, and you would have to convince the Nestlés and Coca Colas of this world to change their concept, perhaps going as far as abandoning their chief business, selling water in bottles. In addition to the use of plastic bottles, this has become, as we know, in many countries, including in the USA a socioenvironmental calamity.

You, Mr. Guterres, could request the western world to stop wasting 30% or more of our food. Yes, wasting, as in throwing it away, even though it would be perfectly fine to be used, But throwing it away brings more profit. How many of us westerners know that we throw away every day at least 30% of perfectly usable food? You could also launch a motion to prohibit all speculation with food stuff, grains, which would make food more affordable and could prevent many famines. Saving food for redistribution to those that need it, might – would – also contribute to peace. But it would have a profit-cutting consequence on the (criminal but legal) food speculators, many of whom are residing in Switzerland.

How about this kind of an approach — an approach towards Peace and a protected environment. This would be something extraordinary – youth for PEACE and youth for a better distribution of food, and youth for a serious protection of our environment. Mr. Soros and his allies may not like it, because demonstrating against Climate Change, making a publicity hype of Climate Change is clearly a deviation from ongoing wars that kill millions and millions in the name of profit and dominance and eventually hegemony over the world’s resources and people.

Kids, ask the UN for achievable goals – for PEACE. It’s not easy, but it’s a worthwhile goal which we, mankind with a conscience, are able to achieve.

In Afghanistan, We Have Three Dreams

Dear fellow human beings,

Some of us have wondered, “Are people today too disconnected and frantic to calm down, in order to solve global challenges together? Are we so polarized and self-absorbed that we cannot stop judging one another or insisting on our partisan ways?”

In Kabul, our thoughts and feelings are diverse, complicated and flawed, so we center our three dreams on relationships.

We have felt much joy in creating this video-letter. We dedicate it to planet earth and to everyone in the human family.

We hope that each of us can take tiny actions to free ourselves from the ravages of money and power.

With love from Afghanistan,

Dr Hakim Young and the Afghan Peace Volunteers

 

In Afghanistan, We Have Three Dreams Video

We’re the Afghan Peace Volunteers in Kabul, and we have three dreams.

Our three dreams are about reuniting with nature and 7.7 billion other human beings!

Our dreams aren’t prescriptions. They’re music and movements, distilled from today’s nightmares.

What we hope to gain is love, not money or political power, because love will be good for all of us!

We will re-boot the operating systems that have programmed us to chase after fake money and power.

After years of rote exams, we have hardly learned anything about becoming finer human beings. So, we have resolved to educate ourselves to question everything, and to love everyone!

We’re like children whose instinct is to become friends. More than being dreamers, we’re do-ers. So, we’re building three earth GENeration dreams, GEN for Green, Equal and Nonviolent.

We dream of Green earth relationships!

We practise permaculture and use solar energy.

Why? We’re part of nature and can’t survive without her. Our Mother Earth isn’t a “thing” for us to utilize or set on fire, but a “being” for us to embrace.

We dream of Equal earth relationships!

We have started worker cooperatives because the world economy isn’t fair for the planet or for 99% of humanity.

Our community is self-governing. We don’t need a Director. All of us are leaders, but we’re not like today’s cash-elected leaders who are some of the least desirable humans in the world.

We’re growing our web of Borderfree friends, because we’re from the same human family, the same tree of life. We want to be friends with all Afghans, US citizens, Russians, the British, Chinese, Koreans, Pakistanis, Indians, Iranians, Sudanese, Venezuelans and every human being!

Our human genome is 99.9% similar, so we reject racism, exceptionalism, male superiority, moralism and others, because all of these are neither scientific nor kind.

We dream of Nonviolent earth relationships!

We all want peace, but so far, we’ve wanted peace only for our own countries, tribes, political and religious groups. So war has continued, and as a result, I’ve lost my uncle Sakhi, and my close friend Tariq.

We’ve more space in our hearts for love and peace than for war, so we’re training ourselves to be nonviolent mediators. We’ll reason and empathize with our leaders and extremists, and we will reach an agreement without using any physical force!

War starts in our militarized minds, so picture the global war on terror as a smart phone. We think it’s necessary and that it works well. But really?

Some people think that, like a phone, war is necessary, But though war may work, it only works physically for a short while, and only works for a few individuals.

For the rest of us, war costs us everything! It’s time to throw it away!

Killing one another unsettles our human psyche. So, to those who have divided us with trauma, distrust, sorrow and revenge, we say, “We’re breaking free!”

Well, these three dreams are really one dream, because we can’t fix the climate, without fixing inequality or war.

Everyone and everything is related! We just can’t separate ourselves from each other, from the earth, or from you!

Okay, thanks for listening to our dreams. We’ve taken up enough of your screen time. So let’s get off screen, terminate our business as-as-usual, and pursue the authentic relationships all of us long for.

Remember, we make up 64% of the Afghan population below 25. We’re the new Earth GENeration. We’re the music and the movements within you, so we hope to meet you someday!

“Friends… they cherish one another’s hopes. They are kind to one another’s dreams.” Henry David Thoreau

Denmark Peace and Justice Conference Connects Activism Against Poverty, Pollution and War

Most people in the West think of Denmark as a tolerant, peace-loving country, even—according to Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump—as a socialist country. Trump views this as a disease to be excised, and avoided in the US at all costs, while Sanders sees this as an ideal for America.

The truth is far from these tales. Denmark runs on a solidly capitalist economy, and it has been at war against all the countries the US has invaded since Iraq in 1990. Its troops remain in Afghanistan and Iraq; and its planes bombed Syria not long ago. The various governments have cut back the social network of “free” education and healthcare to the bare bones in the last decade. The elderly, for instance, who cannot bathe themselves, must wait up to seven weeks before a social welfare assistant can come to wash them and clean house, and must do so in the few minutes strictly allotted. (See my series, ”Scandinavia on the Skids: The Failure of Social Democracy”.)

There are a few, quiet progressive or radical groupings in Denmark, no peace movement, but a burgeoning climate movement. Yet one alternative institution, Tvind, tries to influence people in Denmark, throughout Europe and in some “third world” countries to be activists and teachers of activism. Tvind started in 1970 (see sidebar below) and for the past five years has sponsored an international Peace and Justice Conference.

One of the unusual aspects of Tvind, at its schools, residences and conferences, is that no alcohol or any drugs are allowed. I was there four days and never did anyone, not even the 20-30 year-old majority, speak of any need for these normal crutches, and they danced after all the work until after midnight stone sober. Maybe they got their energy from a sense of fulfilling togetherness and the delicious vegetarian-ecological food they prepared for two dozen students and another 150 people, who came to the conference from Denmark and a dozen more European countries east and west, a handful from India, Africa and Latin America.

This year’s conference took place in mid-May for three days. The kick-off speech dealt with “the Russian ‘peace threat’”, other global perspectives, and how to resist; how to bring the deadly and polluting institution of militarism and its wars into the consciousness and the agenda of those opposing climate change. Previous conference themes had dealt with how to stop wars not refugees; to transform from militarism to conflict resolution and peace; and no justice no peace.

”A culture of peace will be achieved when citizens of the world understand global problems, have the skills to resolve conflict constructively; know and live by international standards of human rights; gender and racial equality; appreciate cultural diversity; and respect the diversity of the earth. Such learning cannot be achieved without intentional sustained and systematic education for peace,” read the invitation.

This year’s program included over 30 workshops, half-a-dozen key speeches, music, a theater piece, artwork, poems, sports and networking. Workshop topics included: fighting with the poor; humanity in action in India; youth in climate action with refugees in Europe; movements for change in the USA; the difference between what the US government tells us about why it wages war and what the real reasons are; war and ecocide; songs for peace; pedagogy of liberation; what is going on in Venezuela; perspectives for our future, and how to take part of creating one.

Making music together with Italian musician Paolo Rossetti

Hans Blix-Noam Chomsky did not attend but Blix was interviewed for the conference, and a Democracy for Now interview with Chomsky was viewed. Blix was the UN’s chief investigator sent to Iraq in 2002-3 to find out if the government had “weapons of mass destruction,” the excuse that President George Bush used to invade it. In 2004, Blix stated that, “there were about 700 inspections, and in no case did we find weapons of mass destruction.” Nevertheless, “let’s kick ass” Bush set up the “coalition of the willing” to destroy much of Iraq and murder over one million people. The Danish government declared war on Iraq to please the US—the only country to actually declare war. While Blix is a man of the Swedish Establishment, a strong supporter of capitalism, EU and nuclear energy, and Chomsky is a rebel anarchist, the two agreed that the greatest threats and challenges to humanity are: climate change and the growing possibility of a nuclear war. Blix said that the former is slow suicide; the latter is quick suicide. The doomsday clock stands at two minutes to midnight, the first time since it did during the Cuba missile crisis, in 1962.

Trine Wendelboe is a Dane who moved to Dowagiac, Michigan 13 years ago. She directs research and development at the One World Center connected to Tvind. This small town is headquarters for the Pokagon band of Potawatomi Indians. The center aims to take action against worldwide poverty and climate change.  Wendelboe spoke of the growing poverty and anxiety overwhelming Americans, and about some of the movements resisting the disasters people confront.

The closing workshop and last speech were held by the Dutch transformation coach and Camino Real guide Gert-Jan van Hoon. Along with young DNS teachers Nadezda and Justas they asked how participants can stick together, how do they not get “blown away”, in order to heal the soul and Mother Earth.

Gert and open future workshop at Tvind’s Peace and Justice conference

I spoke with a dozen participants about what the conference had meant to them. Some were DNS students, a few were in the 10-month international development volunteer program, and some had only attended the conference. Here are comments regarding what they got out of it and how they might “not get blown away”.

Annie Wood, an English student in the DNS program, immediately took up planning her first action following the conference—a student strike in the nearby city of Holstebro. This would be part of the Friday For Future movement actions, which began in March with about 1.6 million strikers at 2000 locations on all continents

She had been inspired by her studies at Tvind and by the conference to write a poem, “The Choice”, which she read to the participants. Here are excerpts:

Here’s my first rhyme for the world to hear
written from inspiration about something I hold dear.
To me it makes clear sense and I think it should to you too,
because right now I’m heartbroken, this has got me feeling blue.

We are killing our home, this great big planet earth.
We are plundering, draining and polluting it for everything its worth.
Yes you’ve heard this story before, maybe you’re bored with the same old lines
but if you don’t help make it better, this story will tell the end of our times…

Maybe we don’t know what is right or what we want,
but we should know by now it’s not war but it is provident.
It’s not hate, destruction or poverty.
It is love, peace, justice what brings a happy life to me.

A Danish youth, Lars, heard of Tvind from The Establishment’s prejudiced view that its founders and teachers are authoritarian “brainwashers”. “Strange”, he surmises in typical Danish irony, “I never knew that brainwashing actually could open up hearts as it has done these days. We clearly felt a warm welcome to share our ‘stories’, as they say in America. We did that but most importantly we engaged in enthusiastic discussions one-to-one and in groups what it is that we want and need to do to save this world, to make it better than it is.”

Maxsim, a 22-year old Lithuanian, said, “We are all impressed with one another in that each of us has so much to share that is useful and positive.”

Maxsim had been deluged with a hateful view of Russia so pervasive in his country. But at the conference he heard a different picture of Russia today, one that indicates neither its people nor its leaders wish nor are acting to make war but rather are acting to protect their sovereignty and defend themselves against an escalating war threat from the US/NATO.

Mariana is a college student from Portugal studying management. She won a free week-long trip to Tvind to help prepare the conference. “These days have shown me that I am not content with becoming a manager for capitalism. I have to find something else for my future, some kind of education that can lead to a job that people actually need. I don’t know what but it shall come.”

Jette, a retired nurse and amateur illustrator, felt it was “lovely to see that people actually looked at one another and smiled or spoke a few words together as they passed by, instead of what we are used to here that one looks away from one another when passing by. And then such a pleasure to see how effective everyone is in doing their tasks while also so willing to play.”

Yusef is a 22-year old Kurdish refugee from Syria who looks ten years older. His parents fled the war-torn land first and made it to Denmark. Yosef was homeless for a time, hungry, on the run. He came to Denmark five years ago, and now lives with his parents.

One summer three years ago, Yusef wanted to do something useful, to participate in a summer camp. A camp at Tvind was among the choices his social worker showed him, something unusual for government paid workers to do.

Yusef said that he, “fell in love with the place and I’ve come here three years in a row now—to the camp and to this conference. I’ve learned a lot especially at this one. As a teenager, I had joined some demonstrations against Assad. I thought it was cool, you know. But I saw that the opposition was brutal too, and some of them were/are being supported by the US. One of the issues that we Kurds had was that we couldn’t automatically get government work when we graduated from universities with degrees, say, in medicine but Arabs could. Otherwise, we also had free education and health care. Shortly after demonstrations began in 2011, Assad agreed to change the rules so we could get government paid work. I realized after a while and since being here, that we were, and are being used and misused by the Americans and all the media hysteria. I now regret that I took part in demonstrations. Assad is not nearly as bad as he is painted to be.”

Vladimir is a 19-year old Russian, offspring of South Korean parents, living in the Czech Republic where he saw an announcement about this conference. He and I worked together in the kitchen one morning, two persons from two entirely different worlds and one four times the age of the other.

Vladimir is shy and not much for words but he opened a bit in our talk. “It is new for me to see people embrace one another and to work together. People here are not thinking so much about themselves. They are not selfish but thinking about the environment, about humanity and the planet.

“I’ve decided to join the ten-month traveling-learning-teaching program. I’ll be back to prepare for the African program, to open new horizons.”

*****

Sidebar: About Tvind

Tvind started (1970) near Ulfborg village (2000 pop.) on Denmark’s west coast by the North Sea. A small group of young teachers settled there to live collectively and with a shared economy. They sought to become pioneers in social development, education and with sustainable environmental projects. Today, there are hundreds of members in the “Teacher’s Group” in several countries.

The first task was to build living quarters, mainly from prefabricated wooden buildings. They dug foundations and made water and sewage systems. They bought and repaired ten buses, which would be used to travel to other countries to learn and teach.

The “Teacher’s Group” developed an educational system based on the concept of a rural collective and a travelling school. They expanded internationally becoming a global people’s corporation.

On September 1, 1972, 100 youth—ten young teachers and 90 students—created a four-year training program to become teachers in primary and secondary schools. This program is called the Necessary Teaching Training College (DNS in Danish letters).

DNS was started from a “necessity to train another kind of teachers to bring more relevant knowledge, mobilization and life to children.”

The times were a-changing but the Establishment and its schools were not. There were pressing issues and contradictions, such as the growing inequality between rich and poor, which were not on the agenda of society’s schools.

DNS became an international program. Today most students at Tvind are from many European countries. There are few from Denmark since the state has refused to support studies at Tvind financially following allegations of tax evasion and misuse of funds by former leaders—a matter still pending. Clearly Tvind/DNS are as controversial today as they were half-a-century ago.

In 1996, Tvind started an international network “Humana People to People”. Humana assists people to lift themselves out of poverty. During a ten-month program, international volunteers learn and work with poor people to learn new skills to farm organically, using windmill energy, assuring clean water, building solar water pump and solar light systems, producing jatropha seed oil for biodiesel energy and animal feed, building homes, and establishing mini-loans for self-employment especially for women. Another aspect is planting tens of millions of trees.

Humana programs exist in the Caribbean, India, Malawi, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau and Zambia. One form of financing these activities is the UFF—development aid from people to people—which collects used clothing that is sold to support Humana projects.

With a DNS bachelor monograph graduates (now over 1000) can become teachers at some schools in a few countries; take jobs with UN aid programs; work with the poor in many countries. Their notion is that the battle for the future of humanity is, “the fight of the poor against the three sisters of capitalism: free trade, free enterprise, freedom of endless profiteering.”

Tvind in Ulfborg also has a care center for people with special needs, a day school, and a school for youth with special needs and others who seek an alternative education—all supported by the local municipality. Students, other than those in the day school, live on campus. The DNS students also live there. There is a second school in Denmark, One World Center at Lindersvold.

The “Teachers Groups” has three other schools in England, Norway and Michigan, USA using the “determination of modern method”, the pedagogical approach shaped at DNS. This gives the student the main responsibility for training and results. Learning is structured with 50% individual studies, 25% common courses, and 25% personal experiences.

Tvind is renowned for building the first modern windmill (1975-8), the largest in the world at that time (54 meters tall with a 54 meters wingspread). Four hundred people began the construction, and through the years several thousands participated. An estimated 100,000 people visited Tvind to watch the process. When the mill was completed, it had only cost the equivalent of $1 million in today’s value—paid for out of Tvind teachers’ salaries.

Tvindkraft (windmill’s name) offered the designs and ideas to any and all, but the state didn’t want them because it was committed to going with nuclear energy. Nevertheless, the Danish people soon rejected this idea, in part because Tvind showed that windmill energy was possible, cheaper and much better for the environment. Tvindkraft is the basis for all of Denmark’s famous windmills.

By 2015, the windmill had produced 20 million kWh. Tvindkraft still provides all the energy Tvind uses. Yet Tvind gets no credit from Denmark’s Establishment since they teach that collective living, common production and sharing is better for people and the environment than capitalism’s greedy foundation.  Nevertheless, in 2008, they won the European Solar Prize, one of the most prestigious awards in renewable energy.

Tvindkraft still standing and functioning 41 years later. Tvind comes from the local dialect word for the surrounding “twisting” brook in that area (Jette Salling Photo)

In the Small Canadian City of Regina, Resistance is Brewing

Ed Lehman is a Canadian Communist, and a comrade of mine. I don’t say such things often or lightly, especially about Westerners. But he became my comrade, and we struggled shoulder to shoulder, for five days. Not in the South American wilderness, not in Afghanistan or Syria, but in Regina, a small Canadian city, the capital of the province of Saskatchewan.

I admit, before being invited there, I knew close to nothing about Regina. I did not even know how to pronounce it, correctly. But one day, an email arrived, and I was invited to become a keynote speaker at the Peace Conference there – in Regina. Spontaneously, I accepted.

The peace conference was called “Yes to Peace and Progress – No to NATO and War!”

I usually do not speak at peace conferences. I have always believed that oppressed and colonized countries have to fight for their independence and freedom, and that peace as it is propagated in the West is something that basically upholds the status quo. It is, as I mentioned in Canada, “when the bombs are not falling on Paris or Toronto”. It is when the wretched of the earth are dying quietly and obediently, far away from camera lenses, in their looted countries and continents.

Actually, many peace movements in the West annoy me to the extreme. Their lack of sensitivity, as well as ignorance, are maddening. The desire of their members to ‘do good’ and ‘feel good’, is often self-serving, and has absolutely nothing to do with the struggle for justice in dozens of colonized, and plundered ‘client’ states.

But there was something very different in what I detected while reading the invitation from Regina. The organizers were actually talking about justice, not just about stopping conflict. They were full-heartedly defending Venezuela. And their main goal was to dismantle NATO, or ‘at least’ to convince Canadians that their country should not participate in the bloodstained ‘adventures’ which are ruining the lives of hundreds of millions of people all over the world. I felt that I was being approached by the real and solid Left. And therefore, without much hesitation, I accepted.

*****

The program was mildly insane. In two Canadian cities – Regina and Winnipeg – I literally had to speak day and night, addressing the Peace Conference, a rally (called “No to NATO! No to “Regime Change Politics!” in downtown Regina in Victoria Park at the Cenotaph to the fallen soldiers of World War 1 and 2, Korea, and Afghanistan), as well as to students and professors at three universities and one high school. Simultaneously, I had to give interviews to both the printed media and radio stations. I was asked to show to the public two of my documentary films; one about North Korea (DPRK), and one about the devastating poverty and AIDS epidemic in the region of the African Great Lakes.

Why am I writing this; why do I give this detailed list of events? For one simple reason: it appeared to me that Canada is actually very different from the United States, despite its geographical proximity, and despite the fact it elected its embarrassingly right-wing government.

Author addressing students and professors at University of Winnipeg

First of all, Canadians do listen. They may not always agree with Communist, revolutionary thinkers like me, but they do sit down, concentrate and listen to you. They want to know; to understand. That is already very impressive, in a world which is brainwashed by the Western propaganda.

But there is more that I noticed while there: unlike in such places like California, no one here says to me: “Thank you for coming, but please do not show us too much blood and too much suffering. We won’t be able to take it” (precisely the comments that I once received in the US, when I was going to show some video clips from my film “Rwanda Gambit”).

If you tell a Canadian audience: “Look, you are participating in several massacres committed by NATO, and I will show you what people in these countries have to endure,” many Canadians will not say ‘no’; they will sit there and listen to you, and if necessary, they will watch what you want to share with them.

And I am grateful for this, and I am also impressed. It is ‘much more’ than what I have encountered in many parts of the West.

Demo in the park against NATO, Regina

Another impressive fact is that Winnipeg is not a large city, and Regina only has some 200,000 inhabitants. Yet both cities have a truly vibrant intellectual life. They have highly educated and informed individuals who clearly oppose the Western regime and global dictates. They have people who struggle against the regime.

And what I also noticed: our conference, organized by the Regina Peace Council (of which Ed Lehman is President),was covered by the local ‘mainstream’ media, by the Regina Leader Post, for instance, which offered a sympathetic account in an article “Group of Reginans protest Canada’s involvement in NATO”. The newspaper had no problems disseminating my ideas, either. The same goes for the local community radio station. And Erin Weir, an independent Member of Parliament, who represents the Regina-Lewvan constituency – personally brought sincere greetings to the conference.

 

I often speak at universities, worldwide. But in Regina I was even invited to address a class of high school students, who were able to formulate and ask very relevant questions.

I don’t want to say that in Canada ‘I participated in mainstream events’, but in both Regina and Winnipeg, I was ‘allowed’ to interact with, and to influence various professors, students, and through media outlets, even the local public.

*****

Anti-war activists here have their Saskatchewan Peace News publication, which is now in its 26th year of existence. As well as reporting on local peace events, it exposes ideas that cripple the peace movement; the doctrine of “Responsibility to Protect” and “humanitarian interventionism”, as Dave Gehl in his speech said “A 21st century version of “The White Man’s Burden”; and is used as an organizer of peace events.

For Ed Lehman, ‘peace’ is not just a pretty word or a slogan, and he is not the only one in Regina, who think this way. He believes that:

Today’s progressives need to unite the fight for peace with the fight for social and economic advance with the fight against climate crisis and the battle against racism. Deep transformation of the economic and social system is required in North America for justice to prevail; we saw in the thirties, forties, fifties and sixties that even in the belly of the beast, victories can be won.

Justice and racism… Unfortunately, racism is not just an ugly word here in Saskatchewan and in Canada in general. It is a reality, a shame. Many of the First Nation people, or call them original inhabitants of Canada, are still living in appalling misery, suffering from discrimination, as I was told by Julie Peebles, a young woman with a great concern for the life-situation facing Canada’s aboriginal population, who noted the similarities between AIDS as depicted in my film on Kenya and the situation in Saskatchewan. Here, indigenous people are facing social conditions similar to those in the poorest countries on earth.

Destitute life of First Nations’ citizens of Regina, Saskatchewan

I suggested, first jokingly, that I should return to Regina, later this year, in order to make a short documentary depicting the plight of the First Nation: “Wouldn’t that be embarrassing: a Russian travelling here, and doing precisely what should be an obligation to any decent Canadian filmmaker?” It was not taken lightly: the people of Regina full-heartedly welcomed my proposition, offering help, support; both moral and practical (like lodging me, driving me around, identifying important locations for my film). And now, I am seriously determined to come back and to help.

*****

After the event, and after my departure, many public figures praised the dedicated work and struggle of the Regina Peace Council. One of the letters stated:

RPC once again has demonstrated to the entire peace movement the possibilities that exist and can be realized from careful and thoughtful organizing and mobilizing of public peace action efforts and in particular by inviting the new generation of peace activists and dedicated anti-imperialist voices to the platform.

The Regina event coincides with other international efforts underway and under-reported by the corporately owned and controlled mass media.

NATO, promoted by the corrupt finance capitalist, political media cabal, as a defensive alliance, is gradually being exposed for what it truly is, the imperialist gendarme and provocateur of US inspired wars, including its most terrible form, nuclear war. Canada has no future and certainly no security so along as our country continues to be part of US-led NATO.

Ed Lehman himself proved that he is not only a dedicated fighter, but also a constructive optimist. After I departed, he wrote to me:

The left has had a tremendous impact in Canada in the last hundred years. Without the struggles of the working class, militant farmers, progressive intellectuals, the indigenous population, and others, our country would not have the social programs and rights that so many here are taking for granted today. Now more and more there is a crisis of everyday living facing the nation as the result of the impacts of neo-liberalism and neo-globalism on our country. The left, and in the first place the Communists, have the task of giving strong leadership in the struggles against climate catastrophe, for a Canadian foreign policy based on peace and disarmament, and for socialism as the solution to the problems faced by Canadians. With a socialist vision and optimism, the working people of Canada will chart a new course for our country.

*****

In Winnipeg, I publicly confronted the former Canadian Ambassador to Venezuela, Ben Rowswell, (watch here), a man who has already caused great damage to various non-Western countries, and who is still continuing with his destructive labor.

I also delivered a speech at Winnipeg University (you can watch my speech: “NATO, Canada and Western Imperialism”here).

Are Canada and its peace movements in Regina and Winnipeg, those proverbial mice which roared?

I am not sure, but what I encountered there filled me with optimism and hope, even convincing me that not ‘everything in the West is lost, yet’.

It also made me think: one assumes that the centers of resistance are located in such metropolises as New York, Los Angeles and Toronto. But, in reality, the Canadian opposition often gathers in small cities and towns: Radio Pacifica deep in British Columbia, Christopher Black well outside Toronto, and Ed Lehman in Regina.

RPC has already hosted such outstanding Canadian individuals as Michel Chossudovsky, a great thinker and the publisher of Global Research, Eva Bartlett, one of the bravest war correspondents on earth, and soon, Christopher Black, my friend, a Communist international lawyer, an author and a poet. It also hosted me, a revolutionary writer and, or as they call me in Latin America, a militant internationalist. And the people of Regina were not scared by what I had to say; they treated me with kindness and warmth, which I shall never forget.

I felt much more at home in Regina than I ever felt in Toronto or Montreal.

*****

During a demonstration against NATO, in Regina; right in the middle of the city, two police officers, one man and one woman, were watching us from the distance. They did not try to interfere. Sometimes they smiled, but mostly they just listened.

When demonstrators formed a circle, two law enforcement officers were invited to join, to participate. Without one moment of hesitation, they did join. That is when I thought: “No, this is nothing like the United States. This is Canada”.

And I was certain that soon, I will be back.

• First published by NEO – New Eastern Outlook

Tackling the “Impossible”: Ending Violence

Whenever, in ordinary circumstances, the subject of violence comes up, most people throw up their hands in horror and comment along the lines that it is ‘in our genes’, ‘nothing can be done about it’ or other words that reflect the powerlessness that most people feel around violence.

It is true that violence is virtually ubiquitous, has a near-infinite variety of manifestations and, at its most grotesque (as nuclear war or run-away climate catastrophe), even threatens human extinction in the near-term.

Nevertheless, anyone who pays attention to the subject of violence in any detail soon discovers that plenty of people are interested in tackling this problem, even if it is ‘impossible’. Moreover, of course, at least some people recognize that while we must tackle each manifestation of violence, understanding the cause of violence is imperative if we are to successfully tackle its many manifestations at their source. To do all of this effectively, however, is a team effort. And hopefully, one day, this team will include all of us.

In the meantime, let me start by telling you a little about some of the people who are already working to end violence by tackling one or more of its many manifestations. These individuals are part of a worldwide network set up to focus on ending violence – ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’ – and they have signed a pledge to do so.

Concerned about US government threats to Iran and Venezuela, several Charter signatories were part of one or both recent peace delegations to Iran and Venezuela respectively. These delegations were designed to open more lines of communication and to demonstrate solidarity with those who do not submit to US hegemony.

The 28-member US peace delegation to Iran from 25 February to 6 March 2019 included long-term nonviolent activists Margaret Flowers, Kevin Zeese and David Hartsough. Unfortunately for David, author of Waging Peace: Global Adventures of a Lifelong Activist and director of Peaceworkers, his trip didn’t go as planned. If you would like to read a compelling account of his time in Iran with some wonderful Iranians, while learning something about what it means to be on the wrong end of US sanctions, you will find it in ‘An American Casualty of U.S. Economic Sanctions on Iran’. Glad you got the lifesaving medical treatment from our Iranian friends that you needed, David, despite the sanctions! And it is a tragedy that Iran has recently suffered even more, as a result of the devastating floods that have hit the country, with the sanctions cruelly denying them vital emergency assistance.

In relation to Venezuela, a 13-member peace and solidarity delegation from North America landed in Caracas, Venezuela on the weekend of 9-10 March 2019. The delegation included leaders of antiwar groups from the US and Canada and, once again, Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers of ‘Popular Resistance’ and ‘Clearing the Fog’ podcasts. You can read an account of this delegation’s findings in Kevin and Margaret’s highly informative report.

Another initiative to support Venezuelans was outlined in the article ‘A Nonviolent Strategy to Defeat a US Military Invasion of Venezuela’.

Traveling widely to witness and demonstrate solidarity with those on the receiving end of US military violence, another long-term nonviolent activist, Kathy Kelly, recently wrote an article pointing out that ‘Every War Is a War against Children’ in which she evocatively documented examples of what this means for those children living in the war zones we call Yemen and Afghanistan. In an earlier article, Kathy questioned the morality of those corporations – such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics and Raytheon – that profit from the killing their weapons inflict.

Environmental journalist Robert Hunziker continues to fearlessly research and truthfully document the ongoing assaults that humans are inflicting on Earth’s biosphere. In his most recent article ‘The Blue Ocean Event and Collapsing Ecosystems‘, Robert straightforwardly explains the content of a recent interview of Dr. Peter Wadhams, the world’s leading Arctic scientist. Robert notes that ‘Currently, the Arctic is heating up about 4 times faster than the rest of the planet… the temp difference between the Arctic and the tropics is dropping precipitously… thus, driving the jet streams less… creating meandering jet streams… in turn, producing extreme weather events throughout the Northern Hemisphere, especially in mid-latitudes where most of the world’s food is grown.’ Robert also notes that the study of ancient ice cores by a team from the British Antarctic Survey, University of Cambridge and University of Birmingham found ‘major reductions in sea ice in the Arctic’ which will crank up (via temperature amplification as a result of no Arctic sea ice) Greenland regional temperatures ‘by 16°C in less than a decade’ with horrific implications for life on Earth. Thank you, Robert, for reporting what the corporate media won’t touch and even many activists find too terrifying to seriously contemplate.

In Chile, Pía Figueroa continues her heavy involvement in efforts to network those committed to peace and nonviolence and to develop media channels that report the truth. Pía reports that ‘Pressenza International Press Agency’, which celebrated its tenth anniversary last November ‘in more than 40 places of the world’, continues to advance its contribution ‘with a journalism focused on peace and nonviolence, to a world in which all human beings have a place and their rights are fully respected, in a framework of disarmed and demilitarized societies, capable of re-establishing the ecological balance through governments of real and participatory democracy.’

Since attending the Media Forum organized in the city of Chongqing, China, by CCTV+ and CGTN, in October last year, Pía has been busy organizing the upcoming Latin American Humanist Forum in Santiago with the objective of ‘Building Convergences’, as its slogan points out. It will be held on 10-12 May with the participation of many grassroots and social organizations involved in more than twenty networks of nonviolent action and inspired by the European Humanist Forum that took place in Madrid, Spain, in May 2018.

Anwar A. Khan was born into ‘a liberal Muslim family in Bangladesh’. As a 16 year old college student, he participated in the ‘Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971, which resulted in horrendous loss of life, genocide against Bangladesh’s intelligentsia and systematic rapes.’ This experience taught him the nature of the US establishment as he was ‘on the battle field along with so many friends of mine and Indian soldiers to fight back the obnoxious nexus of the Pakistani military regime and the Whitehouse establishment’ to create Bangladesh. Khan Bhai went on to complete a post-graduate education, before embarking on a 43-year (so far) business career, involving many different levels of corporate engagement and which took him to many countries of the world, including Venezuela in 2010 where he met both Hugo Chavez and Nicolás Maduro.

He also writes regularly in his spare time and recently wrote an article highlighting the adverse impact of the lack of infrastructure under which many impoverished countries suffer, given the way in which the global economy functions to exploit them. In the article, he describes an inferno that started on the night of 20 February 2019 in a building at Chawkbazar, a 300-year-old Dhaka neighbourhood, ‘where chemicals for making deodorants and other household uses were illegally stored’. The fire ‘quickly spread to four nearby buildings where many people were trapped. Hundreds of firefighters rushed to the scene but traffic jams in the narrow streets held them up. It took almost 12 hours to bring the fire under control….’ The horrific inferno claimed about 100 lives and more were injured.

Commenting on the current project that she is organizing with friends, Lori Lightning outlines the rationale behind ‘Bear Bones Parenting’:

There’s no course or exam to pass to become a parent, and most try to figure this out once a parent, and usually in an exhausted overwhelmed state. Bedtimes, meals, chores, and healthy open communication all become a task without a trusted framework in place.

Based on 51 years of combined wisdom as educators, counselors, health practitioners, moms, step moms and foster moms, Bear Bones Parenting offers an intuitive formula to demystify the basics of parenting and a workbook with tools for reflection and wellness practices to take you actively through day to day living no matter where you are at in your life. You dedicate 15 minutes a day and in trade stop being overwhelmed. A “do it yourself” workbook filled with tools to turn life into what you envision for yourself and your family.

Our cast of puppets help to inspire playful reflection on our children’s temperaments and our own. Eventual creation of short videos will be easily accessible for busy parents and provide some examples of how things typically play out with temperaments and inspiration of the Bear way, which is curious, intuitive, firm and loving.

We hope that BBP can help reduce parental stress and frustration so there is time to connect in joy and curiosity with our children and foster their independence.

For more information, you can contact Lori at this email address: moc.liamgnull@gnitneraPsenoBraeB

Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh is volunteer Director of The Palestine Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability (PIBS) and the Palestine Museum of Natural History (PMNH) but he is also actively engaged in the Palestinian struggle for liberation from Israeli occupation. As he evocatively noted in a recent Easter reflection:

This is the tenth Easter I celebrate after returning to Palestine in 2008. When we native Christian Palestinians have a few moments to meditate and reflect in this season, we reflect that some 2.5 billion human beings believe in a message that originated with a Palestinian baby born in a manger here and was crucified for being the first revolutionary Palestinian to push for caring for the sick and the poor.

We reflect on the real message of Jesus, a message of love and coexistence. The harsh reality on the ground reminds us of our responsibility to shape a better future.

We are hopeful because we take a long view of history. Some 150,000 years ago, humans migrated from Africa using Palestine as the passage way to Western Asia and then the rest of the world. 12,000 years ago, this area became the center of development for agriculture (the Fertile Crescent). This was where we humans first domesticated animals like goats and donkeys and plants like wheat, barley, chickpeas, and lentils. This transformation allowed our ancestors time to evolve what we now call “civilization”. Hence, the first writings, the first music, and art, and the first thoughts of deities. From our Aramaic alphabet came the Latin, Arabic, Syriac, and Hebrew alphabets. Aramaic was the language of Jesus and much of our current Palestinian Arabic is still Aramaic words.

Mazin continues to travel regularly, lecturing about initiatives of the museum but also about the political reality in Palestine. If you would like to volunteer to assist the museum’s projects, or to donate money, books, natural history items or anything else that would be useful, you are welcome to contact Mazin and his colleagues at gro.erutanenitselapnull@ofni

Finally, we are deeply saddened to report the passing of Tom Shea, a long-time stalwart in the struggle for a better world and one of the original team of individuals who launched ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’ on 11 November 2011. We include below the testament of his great friend and fellow nonviolent activist, Leonard Eiger:

For Tom Shea, Peace WAS the Way

My dear friend and fellow Ground Zero member Tom Shea passed away peacefully in the early morning hours of April 3rd surrounded by his family.

Earlier in his life Tom had been a Jesuit, a high school teacher, and had started an alternative high school and Jesuit Volunteer Corp: Midwest. He had also been involved in social justice issues on the national level with the Jesuits. Ground Zero member Bernie Meyer remembers Tom with great fondness, from being a student at St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland where Tom was teaching, to resisting together at Ground Zero many years later.

Tom was 47 when he left Cleveland for Traverse City, Michigan in 1977. There he met his partner Darylene, and they were inseparable from then on. Together, they participated in the Nuclear Freeze movement, and were part of the Michigan Peace Team. They traveled to New York for the second Conference on Disarmament in 1982. They protested both the first Gulf War and the war in Iraq. They also engaged in war tax resistance.

At Darylene’s suggestion, they attended a course in conflict mediation in the early ‘80s at a time when there was little written on the subject. That experience led them to a course taught by Quakers at Swarthmore College in 1986. In 1990 Tom and Darylene founded the five-county Conflict Resolution Service in Northern Michigan and trained the first group of volunteer mediators. Their mission was to promote peace and civility in the community through the use of mediator guided dialogue. In the early days of the program, volunteers met in church basements and around kitchen tables to train, role play and share experiences. They would travel to the homes of people needing mediation, focusing on resolving family and neighborhood conflicts.

Tom and Darylene moved to Snoqualmie, Washington in 2007 to spend more time with Darylene’s children. Tom got involved in community issues and continued his war tax resistance work. You could find him every April 15th, in front of the local post office, offering tax resistance information.

I was still leading a social justice ministry at the Snoqualmie United Methodist Church when one day Tom called the church office and asked who was doing social justice work in the area. We connected immediately due to common work and friends. Soon, Tom and I were making the pilgrimage together across the water to Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action, and the rest (as they say) is history.

I have spent countless hours with Tom and Darylene, discussing world affairs and working together on strategies and tactics for our work with Ground Zero. Tom and Darylene have been inseparable as both life partners and co-conspirators for peace. Tom once said that Darylene is like a Jesuit herself: “Jesuits are taken as very scholarly people and she’s very scholarly.”

In addition to working on media and communications for Ground Zero, and planning vigils and nonviolent direct actions at the Bangor Trident nuclear submarine base, Tom put himself on the line many times, often entering the roadway blocking traffic, both on the County and Federal sides, symbolically closing the base and risking arrest. Tom also created street theatre scripts that have been used during vigils at the submarine base to entertain and educate people.

Robert Burrowes, who cofounded ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’, said that “Tom was one of the true legends in my life. A long-standing symbol of, and nonviolent fighter for, everything that could be in our world.” When all is said and done, Tom’s life can be summed up by A.J Muste: “There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.”

We will be scattering some of Tom’s ashes (per his wishes) at Ground Zero Center during our August Hiroshima-Nagasaki weekend of remembrance and action.

I invite you to honor Tom’s memory by supporting the work of the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee. There are many ways we can engage in war tax resistance in the context of a broad range of nonviolent strategies for social change.

While diminished by the passing of Tom, the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action continues ‘to explore the meaning and practice of nonviolence from a perspective of deep spiritual reflection, providing a means for witnessing to and resisting all nuclear weapons, especially Trident. We seek to go to the root of violence and injustice in our world and experience the transforming power of love through nonviolent direct action.’ You can read about their ongoing efforts on their website, Ground Zero, which also features a ‘Current Action Alert: Stop the “Low-Yield” Trident Warhead!

Each of the individuals mentioned above is part of the ongoing and steadily expanding effort to end the violence in our world. They refuse to accept that violence cannot be ended, and each has chosen to focus on working to end one or more manifestations of violence, according to their particular interests. If you would like to join these people, you are welcome to sign the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’.

If your own interest is campaigning on a peace, climate, environment or social justice issue, consider doing it strategically.

If your focus is a defense or liberation struggle being undertaken by a national group, consider enhancing its strategic impact.

If your preference is addressing the climate and environmental catastrophes systematically, consider participating in ‘The Flame Tree Project to Save Life on Earth‘.

If you would like to tackle violence at its source, consider revising your parenting in accordance with ‘My Promise to Children‘. If you want the evidence to understand why this is so crucial, see ‘Why Violence?‘ and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice‘.

If you are aware enough to know that you are not dealing effectively with our deepening crisis, consider doing the personal healing necessary to do so.

It may be that ending human violence is impossible, as many believe. But there are a great number of people around the world who do not accept this and who are struggling, relentlessly, to end violence before it ends us. What about you?

Call of Duty: Resisting War in Venezuela

Every war is a war against children.

— Egalntyne Jebb, founder Save the Children a century ago.

Responding to the British post-war blockade of Germany and Eastern Europe, Jebb participated in a group attempting to deliver food and medical supplies to children who were starving.

In London’s Trafalgar Square, she distributed a leaflet showing the emaciated children and declaring:

Our blockade has caused this, – millions of children are starving to death.

She was arrested, tried, convicted, and fined. But the judge in the case was moved by her commitment to children and paid her fine. His generosity was Save the Children’s first donation. Source: Kathy Kelly

****

This vet for peace has made a life duty to a simple call to action —  Hands Off Venezuela. Imagine the same call in 1960 —  Hands Off Vietnam; or in 1970 —  Hands Off Chile; or in 1991 —  Hands Off Haiti; Hands Off Puerto Rico 140 years ago.

Those ham-fisted, Imperial-seeped and Monroe Doctrine-primed hands are ours, Uncle Sam’s.

There are resisters to this global hyper power disease that we have been infected with in America that professes a USA-rules-the-world mentality. Dan Shea is that Vietnam Veteran for Peace. He puts his actions where his mouth is.

Rewind the tape 13 years, and we see Dan as a Veterans for Peace organizer  working on the city of Portland becoming a sanctuary city for soldiers AWOL from the armed services who were inserted into Iraq and Afghanistan illegally.

“This is an opportunity for the citizens of Portland and the City Council to support the soldiers who are coming back and their right to speak out,” said Dan Shea of Veterans for Peace, who first proposed the idea.

Shea told an interviewer in 2006 he had enlisted with the Marines and spent most of 1968 in Vietnam, where he was exposed to the herbicide Agent Orange. That resulted in his diabetes, he said.

Shea professes he never supported the Vietnam War, yet like many boys and men (girls and women) back then – especially high school drop-outs — he felt obligated to serve. However, when he came home, he felt betrayed by the country, saying the initial reasons for going to war were nothing but lies. The same thing is going on today, he said.

Over the years of our illegal incursion into Iraq, destroying the country and killing a million or more, and then our longest war, Afghanistan, Shea has talked to veterans who can no longer support the war because of what they participated in or witnessed. “These are people of conscience,” he said. “They served for what is the best of our country — the ability to speak out — and now they are being persecuted for that.”

Shea has had a long history with Central America, and Latin America in general. He went to Venezuela in 2006 and met Hugo Chavez. He also has been to Nicaragua to meet with the revolutionary government and actors in that country which overthrew a despotic dictator, Somoza, who was a puppet of the United States.

Fast-forward to the current debacle of the US and its vassal states and even the supposedly “independent” EU countries  pushing for a violent overthrow of the Chavismo Nicolas Maduro. Shea has just returned from Venezuela on a fact-finding trip that included embracing the Venezuelan people.

Dan and I talked about how that arc of social justice and the golden rule, if indeed true, would have “saved” the world from war and injustice a long time ago. Unfortunately, the boomerang of the capitalists and lords of war continues to cut down movements and countries wanting no more of the insanity of “the endless war on terror” mentality Bush and his neocons (supported by Obama) promulgated.

How can we ever forget Mark Twain’s anti-imperial words in regard to his time and historically the crime of war:

There has never been a just [war], never an honorable one–on the part of the instigator of the war. I can see a million years ahead, and this rule will never change in so many as half a dozen instances. The loud little handful–as usual–will shout for the war. The pulpit will–warily and cautiously–object–at first; the great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, ‘It is unjust and dishonorable, and there is no necessity for it.’ Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will have a hearing and be applauded; but it will not last long; those others will outshout them, and presently the anti-war audiences will thin out and lose popularity. Before long you will see this curious thing: the speakers stoned from the platform, and free speech strangled by hordes of furious men who in their secret hearts are still at one with those stoned speakers–as earlier–but do not dare say so.

And now the whole nation–pulpit and all–will take up the war-cry, and shout itself hoarse, and mob any honest man who ventures to open his mouth; and presently such mouths will cease to open. Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.”

― Mark Twain, The Mysterious Stranger and Other Stories

For 70-year-old Shea, that grotesque self-deception is what now emanates from the very pores of Trump’s regime, from the profiteers of war, from the elite who want Venezuela for their profits, and from the Democrats – the supposed opposition party – who believe America is the great white hope that should be meddling in Venezuela’s affairs.

That moniker, Vietnam vet for peace, speaks to Daniel Shea’s persuasive and holistic approach to life, and he’s  not easily dissuaded by the long arm of capitalism’s systems of oppression which create mayhem through social and cultural injustice he’s experienced in his 70 years on planet earth. He’s a former Marine who had been deployed to Vietnam in 1968.

He did not see himself engaging in the tradition of military service so many in this country seem compelled by — especially civilians like Donald Trump, who not only actively got out of military service during the Vietnam War, but also has been quoted many times deriding vets who went to war, calling them “losers.”

That call of duty, Shea told me, was predicated on being stuck in a hard labor job in Portland, Oregon, and the reality that his draft number would be called up anyway.

He wasn’t a supporter of the war, but he said he just went in to “just get it over with.”

“I did not support the war,” he told me. “I knew the minute I stepped into boot camp that it (military life) was not for me.”

Heck, he went AWOL before being sent to Vietnam – “We went out drinking, and we ended up showing up late to our duty station.” Hard drinking because he and his band of brothers didn’t know if they were going to live or die once in-country. For their human sanity wanting to drown out the reality of possible pending early grisly deaths – it’s a normal emotion and psychological state to resist death, one’s own death – Shea and the others were thrown into the brig.

This story begins in reverse, with Venezuela March 2019, but without a narrative context, few would know why the Portland, Oregon chapter president of Veterans for Peace just returned from Venezuela as part of a big delegation to meet with the people of that country, the people in the streets, in government, in the media and just the regular Jose and Josefina in an effort by this peace delegation to carry forth on some real ground truthing.

“We were on a mission, to listen, to observe, and to attempt to assess the root causes of opposition grievances and whether there might be avenues for talks to address their concerns and find compromises and produce a peace to the advantage of all concerned,” Shea told me. Obviously, the delegation was not blinded by the media lies and the Trump Administration’s propaganda war and the opposition party’s back-stepping.

The right for Venezuelans to determine their futures was always at the forefront of Shea’s and the others’ minds during this delegation. Nicolas Maduro was elected as the leader of the country, and this largely unknown puppet – hand-picked by the Trump people and his same old usual suspects of neocons, going way back, gleaned from the dirty wars of Central America and international felons (like Elliot Abrams) — Juan Guaido is as legitimate to Venezuelans to lead their country as is Donald Duck or Elvis Presley.

“Our main mission was to express our Solidarity with COSI – Venezuela — Committee of International Solidarity and Struggle for Peace.” Shea went with folks like Dr. Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese, Co-chairs of Popular Resistance.

Other heavy hitters included Ajamu Baraka, Black Alliance for Peace and 2016 VP running mate of Jill Stein; Joe Lombardo, co-coordinator United National Antiwar Coalition (UNAC); Gerry Condon, President of VFP; Sarah Martin, Anti-War Committee; Miguel Figueroa, President Canadian Peace Congress; Eva Bartlett, fearless Canadian freelance journalist; and others.

Dan and I cleared the air early on in our interview: I asked him what makes 2019 and Venezuela different than all the other times US presidents/ administrations have taken that which was not theirs to take, who murdered those who resisted and, then who set forth imperial overreach to subjugate people and societies through generation after generation.

“Same old story, nothing has changed – Capitalism is at the root cause of targeting Venezuela. The country’s oil is the price, and the US Corporate Masters will use any means necessary including war,” Shea told me. “They are willing to kill hundreds of thousands of people in order to secure oil for the United States. This was pretty much publicly stated by John Bolton to FOX News in which he said that United States would benefit economically from access to Venezuelan oil.”

Yet we are in an era of cognitive dissonance, distraction and delusional thinking, where the corporate mass media drive a false narrative that supports regime change and resource plunder while the uninitiated public is bombarded with the meaningless of social media feeds and popular lobotomizing culture. Or as Twain describes the US public’s myopic masses as that “great, big, dull bulk of the nation.”

The trip this past March was righteous and part of Shea’s vow of non-violence and weeding out the lies of the very country he went to war for. The trauma of combat was real for him as an 18-year-old in Indochina, but he made it clear to me that it was “the moral injury of realizing I was part of a killing machine that resulted in four to six million people killed and still many more effected by the health effects of Agent Orange.”

He tells me that when he first returned from “his war,” via the Philippines, he like many Vietnam vets was reluctant to self-examine with friends, family or the public: “I just didn’t want to talk war, about Vietnam, or anything associated with the military.”

He slogged ahead, used the GI Bill to enroll in community college in Portland. He got married with his first child on the way. He and his wife were living in an apartment, and got their first house soon thereafter.  Shea began his political development – or we could call it a series of enlightenments — during this period. Then his wife Arlene became pregnant. “This news was received with great joy as I always wanted to have children. We began a series of healthcare classes for pregnant women studying natural birth alternatives, and regular visits to the doctor to make sure Arlene was getting all the nutrients she needed during her pregnancy.”

Lamaze classes, and then the birth of Casey in 1977.  When Arlene’s water broke, the couple was extremely excited. It was a tough labor,  “I think it was about 10 hours and our doctor was a longtime family doctor by the name of Doctor Miracle . . .  how could you go wrong with a doctor named miracle?”

Shea was present at the birth and vividly recalls the doctors rushing his son to the side and then the medical team whispering, eventually stating there were some health concerns with Casey.

“Casey had a seizure and had to be rushed up to the NICU at Doernbecher Neonatal Unit Children’s Hospital. We learned our son had been born with a cleft palate, congenital heart disease and other abnormalities.”

Lots of tears, but Shea and his family were able to celebrate the miracle child, and then a year later, they had a second child, Harmony. Shea learned that the birth anomalies of his son were related to his exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam. In 1981, their son at the age of three passed away, after seven weeks in a coma from a failed heart surgery.

I’ve worked with veterans who have a grief so painful and so deep tied to the trauma of Vietnam and the battle scars and the inhumanity of napalm dousing villages and carpet-bombing cities. However, the other story to the trauma is both tied to their own failing health and especially all the birth defects of offspring.  “I didn’t even want to live but the love of my wife and my daughter kept me grounded. Additionally, I came to see that my story — my loss — was just one out of millions of lives and all those children in Vietnam who would have been exposed to Agent Orange or who had been killed by our bullets and bombs.”

Out of the personal and historical pain, Shea began to “take a strong and deliberate opposition” to all wars and all military interventions. He dug deep into what the idea of how War and Peace had been so at odds in this Indian-killing country. He was attempting to understand how both civilians and military leaders could see it as “honorable to send their children to foreign shores to kill other children.”

I too have questioned our militarism with a military father who was in uniform for 32 years. Shea has wondered what mechanisms are in place and what sorts of psychological blind-spots would possess working class folks to be part of a deliberate military invasion of another nation to kill other working class families, including innocent men, women, children and even infants.

I still remember Muhammad Ali’s words when I was 10 years old and my father was a regular army officer in Vietnam:

Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights? (February, 17, 1966)

I continually remind people that Trump is a bad hombre in the sense he has a cadre of lawyers and some in criminal enterprises working for him and for whom he works. Bad hombre in the sense Trump has narcissistic personality disorder and believes he is the right hand of god even as he lives, breathes and dreams the way of Satan in the Bible he so publicly reveres.  Bad hombre in the sense Trump is a physically inept bully who encourages racism, white nationalism, misanthropy and blind allegiance to the red white blue and Benjamin’s.

I’ve been around real bad hombres, literally, people who slit the throats of their enemies, people who have no compunction fighting mano y mano to the death, yet these people in the drug dealing world and others I have met as a journalist and then some who I worked with as incarcerated folk have more humanity in their pinky fingers than a Trump and his Klan could ever hope for.

Yet, this country has gone downhill since its first slave holder president, George Washington, who stole from his own soldiers, relished killing the Mohawks for land they wouldn’t sell, and proceeded to break every treaty with the First Nations people.

Things have only gotten worse since Cherry-tree Cutting George took the helm.

Dan Shea: “You’re right this began before Trump. The same faces we saw involved in Central America in the 1980s are now pushing Trump to continue on this path. Those faces of course are John Bolton and Elliott Abrams as well as probably a number of other right-wing Republican capitalist anti-communist propagandists. Besides wanting other countries’ resources, they cannot stand to have examples in the world where socialism trumps Capitalism. This just might give people ideas . . .  and that’s dangerous for those in power who are raping the Earth of its resources polluting, our oceans.”

Mini Q & A:

Paul Haeder: What did the people of Venezuela leave you with?

Dan Shea:  Funny you should ask that question because after visiting with President Maduro, there was a press conference held outside the Presidential Palace and I said it’s my turn to speak. Told them I was born in the United States, but my father was from Panama as well as my grandmother so I have roots one foot in the US and one foot in Panama as well as Central America, but my heart is in Venezuela —  with all of you.

You might ask why I feel that way and I would answer because I have seen the tenacity of a people to stand up against one of the most powerful nations on Earth. Venezuelans have refused to accept United States in their bulling attempts and threats to overthrow their elected president and surrender their oil. This is basically the real interest of the United States and their corporate masters — OIL!

PH: What do you suggest people in the US — who do not want to interfere with the Venezuelan elections and people’s right to their own self-determination and the current legitimate government’s right to move forward — DO to affect change?

DS: Organize, organize, organize. Join any number of groups opposed to war, opposed to interventions. Be involved in mass demonstrations in Washington DC, say no to NATO, say no to war and racism, and demand Hands Off Venezuela.

If you’re a veteran, join Veterans For Peace, become a part of the solution not the problem. If you are a soldier currently in the military, VFP encourages you to resist illegal orders of invading a country that has been no threat to the United States. Refuse to deploy, refuse to continue serving in the military by becoming a conscientious objector. If you wish to battle injustice, totalitarianism, dictatorships then start here at home in the ‘belly of the beast’ and resist war, violence and help us build a massive Antiwar and Peace Movement.

PH: Discuss what you learned about this bizarre gambit Trump and the other pols are creating in the international press from the Venezuelan people’s perspective.

DS:  Most of the stuff coming from the US is lies, exaggerations and cherry-picked statistics to suit their narrative. Such as hyperinflation, and the lack of food and goods for sale because of shortages, but Trump and the media fail to tell you how US sanctions are creating that crisis.

PH: Notable moments there.

DS:  You have to maintain some sense of humor even under the dark cloud of war. Thus, Guaido has become joke. In a press conference in Venezuela, I felt it necessary to inject a little humor by declaring myself President of the United States. If Juan Guaido can declare himself president of Venezuela, then why can’t I declare myself the president of the United States.

*****

We talked about how things have changed since the anti-war and pro-civil rights movements in the country in the 1960s. Maybe that was a flashpoint moment, which led the copulating forces of the US government and corporations to entrench themselves deeper and deeper into anti-democratic methods of suppressing the masses, or even stopping targeted movements and campaigns.

Not many Americans who want change are willing to face jail and employment termination. Upton Sinclair stated it almost a century ago:

I intend to do what little one man can do to awaken the public conscience, and in the meantime,  I am not frightened by your menaces. I am not a giant physically; I shrink from pain and filth and vermin and foul air, like any other man of refinement; also, I freely admit, when I see a line of a hundred policeman with drawn revolvers flung across a street to keep anyone from coming onto private property to hear my feeble voice, I am somewhat disturbed in my nerves. But I have a conscience and a religious faith, and I know that our liberties were not won without suffering, and may be lost again through our cowardice. I intend to do my duty to my country.

— Letter to the Louis D. Oaks, Los Angeles Chief of Police, 17 May 1923

We are today deeper in a time of dumb-downing, largely because we have sold our souls and our brawn and intellectual mettle to the corporation. We have variations now on this theme that Sinclair and H.L. Mencken toyed with:

  • Never argue with a man whose job depends on not being convinced.
  • It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.
  • It can be very hard to understand something, when misunderstanding it is essential to your paycheck.
  • It is rather pointless to argue with a man whose paycheck depends upon not knowing the right answer.

For Dan Shea, he has great hope for and in the young people today, who are understanding putting truth to power and are training their minds to not only not accept war as inevitable, but also to train themselves to accept the very proposition that socialism is the only way to stop the madness. “They understand this perverse Orwellian language such as ‘preemptive war,’ or how politicians and generals call mass murder ‘collateral damage.’ To repeat, I see the people of Venezuela standing up against one of the most powerful countries in the world.”

He ends the interview with an allusion, deploying Albert Camus: The Greek myth has Sisyphus condemned to repeat forever the same meaningless task of pushing a boulder up a mountain, only to see it roll down again. For Camus, life is absurd and meaningless, as we see with Sisyphus, yet, “The struggle itself … is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”

“I guess the gods would forgive him once Sisyphus pushes the boulder up the hill, but each time he pushes the stone up the hill, he is defying the system. I feel free knowing I too can defy the system.”