More than 100 people (minimized in several media reports as “dozens”) gathered across the street from health insurer Humana, Inc. in downtown Louisville, KY on Oct. 29th to rally for meaningful health care reform. After the rally, a smaller group “stormed” into the lobby to hold a sit-in. At least that is how one local television station would like you to frame it. In reality, they walked peacefully through the door, which is exactly what the footage that accompanied the “storming” report shows.
I was at Humana for the rally. It was an honor and a privilege to stand with such dedicated activists who are not afraid to stand up and sit down for what they believe in. When I returned to my desk this afternoon, there was what has become the usual daily avalanche of emails about the health care issue. The Public Option is in. It’s out. Lieberman is in. He’s out. It’s worse than the Hokey Pokey and enough to make you ill. And actually all of this political delay is making us ill. In fact it is killing people every day.
And so today we stood up for health care for all because it it is the right thing to do. It isn’t some crazy liberal wingnut idea. It is a desperately needed change in this country we call a democracy. Full stop. Not only that, but it is overwhelmingly supported by the American public.
But yet the media persists in coverage such as the above that characterizes those who speak for the common good in such a way as to sound like dangerous people threatening a large corporation whose spokesman is allowed to frame the company’s position as being ‘for’ health care reform. Really? And how much exactly has Humana spent on lobbying against meaningful reform? How many people have been denied coverage for absurd ‘pre-existing conditions?’ How much more do they charge women than men? We don’t learn that on the evening news because Humana is one of Louisville’s star public citizens with a really nice building on Main Street (yes, their headquarters really is on Main Street in downtown Louisville) that makes mega bucks on Wall Street.
And so the viewing public gets a grossly distorted view of the health care debate, and the Congress that Humana and its ilk bought out dither us to death.
This story isn’t over, protesters are spending the night inside the Humana building. We will see what tomorrow brings.
Morning has broken and should have word soon from the Humana sleepover.
Supporters are invited to join us in the morning as we continue the sit-in. We’re inviting everyone to a solidarity celebration for a single-payer nation at the Humana building, 5th & Main, 11:30AM on Friday, October 30th.
In the revolution will be blogged, twittered and sensationalized on television and ignored by the local newspaper department:
If you ran out to get your morning paper in Louisville hoping to read the story, you would have had to do some mighty nuanced reading between the lines because apparently the reporter that the Courier Journal would have sent to cover the story was laid off during one of the recent waves of cutbacks which were accompanied by long-winded Gannett talking head drivel about how it wouldn’t affect the quality of what was left of the paper. In otherwords, the CJ got the memo, they just ignored it and there is nothing, nada, zip in the paper this morning. (Correction–a reporter did show up early yesterday evening and they do have a piece on their website, but nothing in the print edition).
Disclaimer--don't know if she's a blogger, but she could be.
Regarding Phillip M. Bailey’s “Beware of blog” (LEO Weekly, Oct. 7): Ed Manassah’s dismissive comments regarding the blogosphere are unfortunate and, to borrow his own words, jaundiced. According to the former publisher of The Courier-Journal, you may not be seeing “reality” if you believe everything you read in the blog world because the writers write from their personal perspective and not that of an institution.
Indeed. It is precisely for that reason people should read blogs. While there are certainly bloggers who deliberately misrepresent facts, there are also many hard-working bloggers who are dedicated to finding the truth, and because we are not beholden to institutions like Rupert Murdoch’s empire or Gannett, we have no vested interest and are free to speak truth to power. The notion that mainstream media always gets it right and fact-checks what it presents as truth is delusional.
While the mainstream media was busy embedding reporters with the military in Iraq and reporting the Bush administration lies as fact, the blogosphere was asking the hard questions about why we were there in the first place, what connection Saddam Hussein had with the bombing of the World Trade Center, and where were the weapons of mass destruction. If we had paid heed to the blogosphere where questions were being asked about the incestuous relationship between Wall Street and the federal government, we would have seen the sub-prime mortgage crisis coming, because that information was being blogged several years before the economy went in the toilet. The list goes on.
When supporters of mainstream media insist on belittling the blogosphere, they only show their ignorance. Instead of trivializing the substantive work done by many dedicated people working on shoestring budgets, why not be supportive and share expertise and resources and embrace the potential of expanding the paradigm of how we become informed. Considering publications like the C-J have shrunk to the point that there is barely enough left to line a birdcage, Manassah might want to rethink his arrogant attitude about the blogosphere.
I went to see Where The Wild Things Are over the weekend, highly recommended although the beginning of the film ironically adds scenes that the film’s producers apparently imagined Sendak must have been thinking were the catalyst for this flight of fancy instead of Sendak’s quite plausible story line because it could not possibly be a commercial success I suppose unless you add some big bad mean teenage sister and her evil friends and a single struggling Mom who just needs affection herself. Which unfortunately takes an elegant tale and makes it both problematic and unsuitable for younger children, for whom the book was written in the first place.
Okay, so maybe that is a rather qualified recommendation. Even so, I still greatly enjoyed the film. But after coming home and re-reading the book, I started thinking about the point that regardless of where our flights of fancy lead us, sooner or later we need to come back to reality. Which of late here on Planet Earth pretty much sucks.
The following morning as I was reading through the Sunday newspaper, I realized that the pile of newsprint that was devoted to trying to sell me something I probably don’t need was far larger than the part devoted to informing me of the publisher’s take on what is so. As an example, there were any number of ads hawking beverages in plastic bottles, but nowhere a reference to a recent report that,
Drinking water from plastic bottles made with the toxic chemical bisphenol A (BPA) increases urinary levels of the chemical by nearly 70 percent, according to a study conducted by researchers from Harvard University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
BPA, an industrial chemical that makes plastics hard and transparent, is widely used in plastic drinking bottles, infant bottles and other consumer products, and also in resins that line cans of food and infant formula. The chemical has been shown to disrupt the hormonal system, potentially leading to reproductive defects as well as brain damage, cardiovascular disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes.
Nor among all the glossy pictures do we see this:
On a daily basis, we are bombarded with a veritable avalanche of data that skewers our perceptions of what is real and what is important. Not only that, but the historic context in which we process this bombardment is skewered as well, something that is made elegantly clear in the reading of From Eve to Dawn, Marilyn French’s history of women, or Riane Eisler’s The Chalice and The Blade, or other documentations of women’s lives and history that has been marginalized in the telling of our stories over the years (and ditto that point regarding the history of anything that isn’t pale and male). As Corinne Kumar makes clear in this elegant speech, to truly attain social justice, we need to understand the roots and depth of the human condition, and that has been rather literally bleached out of history.
Which brings me to this–While the U.S. is operating, or more to the point not, on the assumption that our national decision-making must be predicated on the theory that mega banks and insurance companies are too big to fail, that corporate welfare must be preserved even at the cost of human welfare becoming a toxic asset, Richard Power points to the real show-stopping questions of whether the climate and human race are too big to fail, saying quite pointedly that if we don’t get a grip on climate change,
Goldman-Sachs and its ilk won’t be our biggest problem, or even among our top ten problems.
If the planetary climate is allowed to fail we will be circling back to
No longer too big to fail...Summer ice in the arctic will likely be gone in 20 years. But consider the amount of news coverage this story has gotten compared to the boy who didn't go up in the balloon.
the beginning of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, i.e., just a bunch of armed apes. Indeed, it is not just the future that we are in danger of losing but also the past.
As for the human race,
After all, it’s us, it’s all we’ve got.
But as Power eloquently documents, that point seems to be completely forgotten when it comes to things like our policies on issues such as Darfur or empowering women. Here in the U.S. we have been having an obsessively myopic national angst attack regarding the financial and health industries and our national ‘security’ at the expense of almost everything else–the environment, education, etc.
If indeed we continue to insist on measuring success by corporate wealth and how much stuff we make and buy, Goldman Sachs will continue to thrive. For awhile. But in the end, human beings and the climate will, inevitably, fail.
Does it have to be that way? Honestly, I no longer feel any certainty that we can stop it from happening, we may well be beyond the tipping point. But one thing is for damned sure, we don’t have to continue to contribute to our own demise. There are many efforts being made to change our values paradigm to reflect the world that is really so. One very exciting new initiative is The Real Wealth of America Public Policy Project, based on Riane Eisler’s, “The Real Wealth of Nations” which,
is designed to advance the real wealth of our nation: the health, well-being, and full development of our nation’s women, men, and children. A major aim of the project is to change the present economic perspective to one that not only recognizes the enormous “back-end” financial costs of failing to invest in people, but also recognizes the direct economic benefits of investing in
human capacity building.
As Eisler states: “Rather than trying to just patch up a system that is not sustainable, let’s use our economic crisis to move to an economic system that really meets human needs. As Einstein said, we can’t solve problems with the same thinking that created them. In our time of rapidly changing technological and social conditions, we must go deeper, to matters that conventional economic analyses and theories have ignored. We need a caring economics that no longer devalues the most important work: the work of caring for people, starting in early childhood, and the work of caring for our Mother Earth.”
The indicators for the currently used Gross National Product were developed and adopted during the depths of the Great Depression. They were only meant by their authors to be a beginning for measurements, not the be all and end all.
We urgently need new economic indicators. The RWA public policy project is a strategic step toward achieving this goal.
The governing values for measuring and promoting the Real Wealth of Nations are:
Recognizing that the contributions of people are the real wealth of a nation– and hence the need to invest in human capacity development, starting in early childhood.
Recognizing that, especially for the post-industrial knowledge-information economy, our most important capital is high quality human capital.
Recognizing the need to give greater visibility and value to the work of caregiving in both the market and non?market economies.
Recognizing the value of investing in our human infrastructure for our world’s families, communities, equality, democracy, and economic success.
It is precisely this kind of thinking that is absolutely critical if we are to make the paradigm shift necessary to avoid presiding over the biggest failure of all, our own and that of Mother Earth. I have a recording of Phil Och’s song “I Ain’t Marching Anymore” where he introduces the song as a “turning away song”. Turning away is a very powerful statement and we need to do a lot more turning away, from greed, from exploitation, from violence and hate.
We need to say no more, but we need to go beyond that–we need a change of direction such as Eisler is suggesting. We need to do this on a personal level and on a societal level. On October 24th, there will be a Global Day of Climate Action with events all over the world. Find out what is going on where you live and make plans to be there, support The Real Wealth of America Public Policy Project, find and support other projects that are path-changers. As Alice Walker so beautifully observes, we are the ones that we have been waiting for.
A year after the financial system was brought to its knees, a resurgent JPMorgan Chase reported a second consecutive quarter of surprisingly strong profit on Wednesday, solidifying its position at the pinnacle of American banking.
JPMorgan’s results — $3.6 billion in profit for the third quarter — fanned hopes on Wall Street that the nation’s financial sector was entering a new period of prosperity, despite lingering troubles.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc.‘s third-quarter earnings more than tripled from the depths of the financial crisis a year ago as higher trading profits offset a drop in investment banking.Goldman earned $3.03 billion in the July-September period, or $5.25 per share, easily beating analysts’ expectations of $4.24, the bank reported Thursday. Goldman also recorded $5.35 billion in compensation expenses.
The combined Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase quarterly earnings amount to $6.63 per hungry person. And the reason some of those folks are hungry is because:
Corporate earnings are up — mainly because companies have been cutting costs. Payrolls comprise 70 percent of most companies’ costs, which means companies have been slashing jobs. In the end, this is a self-defeating strategy. If workers don’t have jobs or are afraid of losing them, they won’t buy, and company profits will disappear.
In other words, this is all temporary fluff, folks. Anyone who hasn’t learned by now that there’s almost no relationship between the Dow and the real economy deserves to lose his or her shirt in the Wall Street casino.
An AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, the same rifle that a man carried to an Obama rally in Minnesota last month, was auctioned off and scores of tickets were sold, raising about $2,300, with another approximately $500 donated to the group.
In observance of Blog Action Day for Climate Change below are excerpts from several articles that I wrote in 2005 and 2006. I haven’t written much about the environment since then, because writing what I know to be so in this case is simply too painful and difficult to write. When I went back and re-read these pieces, I found that sadly, they are still valid today, in fact even more so with the evidence of global warming and climate change that has been gathered in the interim. And so, I again share with you these thoughts and implore you to take these words to heart.
All evidence suggests that our lives and that of our planet are in grave peril. If we are to survive, we must immediately dismantle the forces of greed and power that are destroying our lives in the toxic pursuit of empire. It is our refusal to face the realities of global warming and our continued illegal use of Depleted Uranium that are the true terrors of our time. Our governments and the corporate empires they defend must be compelled to cease and desist from all forms of violence against our earth and its inhabitants, to work towards mitigating the damage done and to begin creating a livable future.
The environmental imperative of our situation cannot be ignored. The impact of global warming is accelerating. Levels of carbon dioxide (the main cause of global warming) have risen abruptly in the last two years. The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world and its polar ice cap has shrunk up to 20% in the last three decades; the ice cap is expected to disappear altogether by the year 2070. Our land, air and water are polluted with toxins and waste to the point where they can no longer sustain life. Species of plants and animals are becoming extinct, glaciers are melting.
As global warming continues to affect the life of our planet, the results will be devastating. Water will become scarce in some parts of the world while others will be flooded by rising seas as the polar ice caps melt. Rain forests are likely to dry out and burn and parts of the world will become much hotter even as others become much colder. Droughts will cause starvation, oceans will become more acidic and less hospitable to life and diseases like malaria will spread easily.
Studies and reports have been issued telling us that temperatures are rising far faster than previously thought and that we have reached the tipping point in global warming that we had sought to avoid. There is the grave possibility that within as little as 10 years, we will reach the point of no return. Once that point is reached, the risk of abrupt uncontrollable climate change is expected to increase according to the recent report “Meeting The Climate Challenge”.
Each year, more and more people die unnecessarily of the cancerous impact of our toxic behavior, of preventable starvation, of disease and because of the misguided priorities of violence. War rages because of greed and the desire for domination. The pandemic quest for power and honor cuts an ever-widening swath of violence and degradation. Millions of people have been killed, wounded, trafficked, sexually assaulted and left homeless. And always, it is women and children who are most victimized.
It is precisely our disconnection from our ecological support systems that allows us to commit warfare.
It is the most perverse of ironies that the military forces that claim to defend us are responsible for most of the violence and environmental degradation that is destroying our world. These forces are inextricably tied to the ethos of corporate and national empire building that values the hoarding of resources over the common good.
This perilous and lethal greed is no longer tolerable and it is imperative that we come together in insisting on an end to planetary destruction and full commitment to creating a fair and sustainable future, with full and equal voice for all, most especially those who have born the brunt of the impact of the patriarchal irresponsibility.
Delay is no longer acceptable or possible, there is no more time.
One wonders what the Wicked Witch of the West must have been thinking in that terrifying moment in the Wizard of Oz after Dorothy doused her with water, when she realized that she was melting and no amount of evil spells was going to change that? With the recent deluge of melting glaciers and warming seas, it seems we residents of planet Earth may be reaching a very similar moment.
Our glaciers are melting at an ever quickening pace and there seems to be little we can do to stop it. According to recent studies, the Helheim glacier, one of the largest in Greenland, is melting at a rate much faster than expected. If it continues, Greenland will likely become much smaller and SEAS COULD RISE AS MUCH AS THREE FEET DURING THIS CENTURY. The accelerated melting is attributable to Greenland’s warming temperatures which have risen five degrees Fahrenheit in the last ten years.
One of the most critical side effects of glacial melting is the threat posed to the Gulf Stream which could be shut down by the rising ocean water levels. The Gulf Stream protects Northern Europe from freezing temperatures. THE LAST TIME THE GULF STREAM FAILED, BRITAIN WAS COVERED IN PERMAFROST FOR MORE THAN 1000 YEARS.
A new scientific report by British oceanographers found that the overall movement of the Gulf Stream seems to have slowed down by 30% in the last fifty years. The slowdown is caused by increased glacial melting and warming ocean temperatures. While this has long been expected, scientists are alarmed to see these changes so soon.
Unfortunately, Greenland is only one of the many areas where glaciers are melting. In the Himalayas, whole villages are being destroyed by floodwaters from lakes overflowing with water from melting glaciers. Glacier lake catastrophes used to happen once a decade, now they occur every few years.
Ultimately the Himalayan glaciers will shrink to the point that their meltwaters will die out and the rivers that have been fed by the melting will all but evaporate, causing a severe shortage of drinking and irrigation water. Hydroelectric plants that supply power to the region will also be affected. The region is already experiencing a loss of vegetation that in the long term could lead to starvation for the region’s population.
Ice in the Arctic region is melting as well. If current warming trends continue, WITHIN 100 YEARS THE ARCTIC MAY BE ICE-FREE IN THE SUMMER, something that has not happened in a million years. The melting ice in the Arctic bodes badly for polar bears, seals and other animals in the region.
What scientists stress in all of these situations is that the process of melt-off has reached such a level that it may well be unstoppable; we may be at a point of needing to adapt and respond to the very harsh realities of global warming. A chilling thought.
We are already feeling the impact of global warming in a number of ways. Rising ocean temperatures have caused what scientists term a catastrophic drop in sea and bird life numbers in the Pacific Northwest. Populations of seabirds such as cormorants and fish such as salmon and rockfish are at record lows. Similar events are taking place in the North Sea.
In addition to the impact on our oceans and seas, a recent report found that CARBON DIOXIDE LEVELS ARE THE HIGHEST THEY HAVE BEEN IN 650,000 YEARS. The World Health Organization has found that 150,000 DEATHS AND FIVE MILLION ILLNESSES ARE DIRECTLY ATTRIBUTABLE TO GLOBAL WARMING.
But that’s not the bad news. The bad news is that these stories tend to get buried on page A18 of the newspaper (if they’re covered at all), pre-empted by the latest car accidents, political foibles and other human interest stories.
Climate change should be a Page One headline and at the top of our national agenda as well. Yet our media refuses to connect the dots and we have elected leaders who seem to think we are exempt from global reality. No need to act, just stay the course and keep driving those SUVs up the river De-Nial.
One wonders what part of deep brown smelly stuff our media and pols fail to grasp? Do we perhaps need to send the lot of them to see “Chicken Little” so that they can practice saying, “The sky is falling, the sky is falling”?
No, best to leave our heads firmly planted in the sand.
My new calendar has a picture of an ice-covered Alaskan wilderness preserve. My throat catches every time I glance at its breathtaking beauty, and I make a mental note to go see this beautiful place soon, before the ice melts.
It is no longer possible to relegate global warming to a theoretical possibility. It is reality. It is 60-degree days in January when it should be six degrees above (in the city where I live, temperatures are running more than ten degrees above normal this month). It is the slowing Gulf Stream, the melting ice. It is the droughts in Africa and Oklahoma, in the Himalayas and the Amazon. It is the rising seas and hurricanes and tsunamis that decimate cities and villages in Indonesia and Louisiana. It is the highest carbon dioxide levels in 650,000 years and the fish and plankton that are dying in the warming seas.
There is no real doubt that this is occurring, only the political impossibility of admitting that not only is it happening, but it is not within our power to stop it, the changes that we are seeing have taken on a life force of their own. It is the life force that our earth has always had, which for a few brief years in the history of the universe, we delusionally thought we had the power to overcome. But the truth that we are faced with now is that it was never ours to control, and our biosphere, our planet, our world has once again taken the reigns in what is to be. Climate change has accelerated to the unstoppable point of no return. The snowball is now an avalanche.
Weather events like last year’s Tsunami and the hurricanes of last fall are surely just a preview of what is to come. Yet we stupidly declare that we can rebuild New Orleans from the ruins of a bayou covered with toxic sludge without more than a cursory examination of the damage done or whether it will ever truly be safe to live there again. We rebuild, stubbornly clinging to the notion that we are the masters of our environment. It does not yet occur to us that it has been a mortal mistake to think that it was ever ours to command.
It is time to make peace with our planet, to apologize for the damage done and to humbly ask for a chance to tend our hearth with mercy, even if we can no longer make amends.
With her kind permission, what follows is a thought provoking essay by Janie Rezner about what I suppose might be called the faux meaningful mantra. As I told Janie in our correspondence about this piece, my personal not-so-favorite is the notion of living in the moment. As if we can separate this moment from the history that brought us here or pretend that it has no impact on the moments that will follow. The only true power is power with and from within, and the notion that meaning can be gained from constructs of power over will always be a falsehood.
Right Relationship and being in Gratitude.
I believe these concepts are rather popular these days… in the spiritual ‘realms’ at least. And sometimes worn like a mantle by the folks touting them, who may perhaps inwardly pat themselves on the back about being “on the path.”
However, in these conversations seldom is there a mention of the suffering peoples in the world…
Spiritual and religious services and gatherings, rituals and sacred musical events –environmental groups, any gathering of serious minded persons, who do not even make a mention of the suffering peoples, women and children, and grandmothers and grandfathers of the world, not a mention or a prayer for the innocent and oh so vulnerable animals and other creatures of this earth who suffer beyond measure, living horror filled lives and deaths… and the continuation of WAR, and the degradation of our earth itself…
Seem to me to be kinda short on Compassion…
And that there is NO MENTION of the horrific sexual abuse against millions and millions of women and children all over the world, at this very moment, who are being violated and tortured, by insane patriarchal men, all over the world, at this very moment…
Where is the ‘right relationship’ in that?
And, further, regarding we humans, men’s that is, “sacred vow with the animals that it’s ok with them to be sacrificed, “ that they are willing to hand their life over to you –so we may eat…. you know, how those Indians did it… in a sacred way… you remember…
Do you really think that antelope was put on earth to feed YOU? What about it’s OWN life… I wonder which animal “they” polled to come up with such an idea??
Let’s turn it around… “oh by the way” – says the monster, “I’d like to kill your daughter tomorrow so we can eat her. Thanks so much.”
Where’s the right relationship in that?
I suggest HUMILITY and GRATITUDE FOR THE GIFT OF LIFE EVERYWHERE…
My commitment is the bring forth a new paradigm grounded in the supremacy of the Great Mother, our creator. That is what real supremacy looks like!! She is our mother, for heaven’s sake. How else do you think you got here??? Did you fly into earth on your own?? Whose body held you and nourished you and protected you all those months you came into being… and in the months and years beyond… as we came into our adulthood…and who is still a powerful and essential part of our lives?
In order to move into a higher state of consciousness, we need to bring into our awareness the “shift” that is happening–the reemergence of the Great Mother, the Sacred Feminine. This is the time to call her forth–to proclaim her space in our consciousness.
A year after Washington rescued the banks considered too big to fail, the ones deemed too small to save are approaching a grim milestone: the 100th bank failure of 2009.
Burdened by worsening commercial real estate loans, many small banks’ troubles are just beginning. Many analysts say that the now-toxic loans could sink hundreds of small lenders over the next few years and place a significant drag on the economy.
Already, the bank failures are placing enormous strain on the F.D.I.C. and its fund, which keeps depositors whole. Flush with more than $50 billion only two years ago, the fund recently fell into the red.
So our federally insured deposits are insured with what, exactly?
Geithner’s calendars, obtained by The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act, offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the extraordinary influence of three companies. More than any other company or any of their rival banks, Goldman, Citi and JPMorgan can get Geithner on the phone several times a day if necessary, giving them an unmatched opportunity to influence policy.
Neil Barofsky, the independent watchdog of the TARP program, recently said that while the Wall Street bailout did avert full-scale financial collapse, it plainly failed in its principal stated goal of increasing lending (because banks used the money to buy other institutions, create capital cushions, pay out bonsues, etc.). He detailed how the Treasury Department actually tried (mostly unsuccessfully) to coach the banks into refusing to provide Barofsky with information about how they used the TARP money they received. Worse, he said that the U.S. economy is more dependent than ever on these same “too-big-to-fail” financial institutions, which have grown in size, and the U.S. economy is thus more vulnerable than it was even a year ago to an actual collapse.
The thirty GOP Senators who voted against the Franken amendment, which protects women who were raped or sexually abused while working for private defense contractors, received generous contributions from those same private contractors.
Suck on this–Insurance company denies coverage to “obese” breastfeeding baby:
Alex Lange is a chubby, dimpled, healthy and happy 4-month-old.
But in the cold, calculating numbered charts of insurance companies, he is fat. That’s why he is being turned down for health insurance.
By the numbers, Alex is in the 99th percentile for height and weight for babies his age. Insurers don’t take babies above the 95th percentile, no matter how healthy they are otherwise.
“I could understand if we could control what he’s eating. But he’s 4 months old. He’s breast-feeding. We can’t put him on the Atkins diet or on a treadmill,” joked his frustrated father.
While the media was busy quoting old white guys, the woman we should have listened to because she got it exactly right:
Going to the movies just isn’t what it used to be. In the olden days, you bought a ticket, plunked yourself into a seat, ate the popcorn and escaped from reality for a couple of hours. No more. It truly is a sign of the times that within the space of a week, two different movies opened that are not only hugely entertaining, but also offer biting analysis of our current economic crisis, globalization and climate change and implore viewers to not only watch but to also take action.
If Econ 101 made no sense to you and guys like Greenspan and Geithner sound like they are speaking in tongues, go see Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story, all will be illuminated. The movie is funny and informative, but much more importantly, Moore intends it as a call to action,
As far as I’m concerned, Tea Bag Nation ends today — at noon to be precise. For that’s when I set loose, on a thousand screens across this great land, a movie I’ve made that’s so relentless, so dangerous, so damning in its humor, that it will — I can only hope — do what no movie has done before: Take them down, take them all down, once and for all.
On his website he has a “Do Something” page with links to organizations working on such issues as health care reform, the foreclosure crisis, subprime lending and information about the much and erroneously maligned ACORN.
While Moore leaves the choice of action up to you, the Yes Men, Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, ask for something that I don’t think has ever been asked in a major movie rollout–they are asking viewers to hit the streets and maybe even participate in a global civil disobedience action. Really. The Yes Men Fix The World, for lack of a better term, vivisects globalization and corporate greed and exposes it for what it is, and somehow manages to deliver its message despite the fact that the audience is laughing so hard they are gasping for air.
And then as the lights go on, they ask you to join them in protesting the truths they’ve just exposed. During the opening nights, thus far, the audience has marched out of the theater and gone to Whole Foods, JP Morgan Chase and an ICE detention center along with megaphones, musical instruments and Survival Balls.
Which leads us to what the Yes Men are really leading us to–civil disobedience:
Our film is a small part of a movement to help make that happen. Another part is BeyondTalk.net – a website we recently launched in collaboration with a dozen direct-action activists. The idea is to get 10,000 folks to sign the “Climate Pledge of Resistance” and risk arrest to demand sane climate-change policy. On November 30, the tenth anniversary of the Seattle protests, and a week before the Copenhagen climate talks, those 10,000 activists will form the largest civil disobedience action in recent protest history.
Will this hilarious call to get off our butts work? I don’t know but consider the following collection of headlines from the last week alone:
After losing about $1 trillion in the markets, state and local governments are facing a devil’s choice: Either slash retirement benefits or pursue high-return investments that come with high risk.
Eighteen months ago, no one dared imagine humanity pushing the climate beyond an additional two degrees C of heating, but rising carbon emissions and inability to agree on cuts has meant science must now consider the previously unthinkable.
“Two degrees C is already gone as a target,” said Chris West of the University of Oxford’s UK Climate Impacts Programme. “Four degrees C is definitely possible.”
The City of Detroit Planning & Development Department was to pass out 5,000 applications to those standing in line. But a line of people snaking back and forth inside Cobo, down Washington Boulevard and around the corner to the circular parking deck far outnumbered the applications available.
“Today, one-third of mortgages are underwater, and if housing prices continue to drop, some experts estimate that one half of all mortgages will exceed the value of the homes they secure,”
Meanwhile, in a bizarre parallel universe, the DJIA keeps going back up and every week or 2 someone proclaims the recession over. Well maybe (for now) on Wall Street but it sure the heck is not on Main Street.
When I was growing up we learned that it was good for companies to grow and produce more goods because then people had jobs and things to purchase with the money they earned making said things. But in a jobless “recovery” which is what appears to be happening now, that relationship is suddenly exposed for the fraud that it is, and we are now being confronted with the small print at the bottom of the contract that says there will also be an environmental price to pay for all the stuff we’ve been producing and long story short, instead of taking us along for the ride, what is going up on Wall Street is going down on Main Street. (For an additional reality check about what has and hasn’t happened economically during the last year, see this compendium of ups and downs.)
If, like me, you’ve had enough, go to Beyond Talk and sign up. If you can’t commit civil disobedience, you can sign up for legal acts of protest. We may not be able to fix the world, but we can damn well stop trashing it. The only way that is going to happen, however, is if we are willing to stand up for ourselves. Yes, I mean you. Just do it.
When I was a child, I had a book about a little girl whose grandmother gave her a word, I don’t recall the name of the book, but just the point that the gifting of words was enormously powerful.
Last week I asked for suggestions for “a word to describe the rising up of a matri- (meaning honoring both women and Mother Earth) energy force for peace.” I received numerous suggestions, all quite inspiring. The two that resonate with me are matridynamic which was offered by Loretta Kemsley and gaia-archy which was shared by Susan Hawthorne. They are both very potent words. Gaia-archy feels like a good descriptor of a framework, but matridynamic at least to me sounds more like an organic, growing, changing process that reflects what is needed.
There is little doubt that we have reached the time where there must be not only a turning away as Phil Ochs once put it, but also a very major change in paradigm. In this country it is now painfully obvious that every aspect of our well-being has been sold to the highest bidder and that those we have chosen to run our nation are, with few exceptions, corrupted to the core. Globally, the climate change that our plunder of the earth has wrought is making itself painfully apparent time and time again, with floods, droughts, water and food shortages, melting glaciers and disappearing species. There is no turning back now, only a question of how we go forward.
For this we need a changed way of being with ourselves and with the earth, a new way of going forward, a visionary shift that is well described by the word matridynamic.
Many thanks to all that participated in this dialog and especially to Loretta for such a magnificent word.
Lucinda Marshall, photo by Jaree Donnelly
Lucinda Marshall is the author of the full-length poetry collection, Inheritance Of Aging Self (Finishing Line Press,2021) and is the Founder of the DiVerse Gaithersburg (MD) Poetry Reading. In addition to being a writer, she is also an artist and quilter.