Saturday, January 29, 2011

Democracy or Bust - Staring Down the Tanks

Tanks and armed personnel vehicles are rolling into Egypt and I am struck with renewed wonder of how intrinsic friends and family are to the process of Democracy. Nervously watching the faces of soldiers waiting to be given the order to fire upon their own people, I cry with joy when I see their reluctance and quietly cheer as young men, with weapons of destruction at their disposal, stand-down and accept the hugs and kisses of their fellow countrymen.

I hope it stands. This loyalty. This knowledge that to destroy your own people is the end of humanity.

My hope is that all parents, everywhere, realize you don't let your children grow up to be soldiers without first teaching them that when democracy "hits the fan" and you have a choice between serving a corrupted political body and an oppressed people - you side with the people.

Because, yes, in theory, democracy is a government by and for the people. (rueful smile).  But when that government becomes deaf to the will of the people how do concerned, angry, disheartened citizens make themselves heard?

We can write letters. We can make phone calls. We can sign petitions :) But the real measure of a government's ability to hear, to listen and to respond is measured in the streets. Demarcations of sons and daughters, of parents and guardians, of the elderly and the yet to be born.

Only then are grievances addressed. Only then do politicians stop politicizing and start negotiating.

Democracy isn't hiring the guy with the deepest pockets and the best sounding promises. True democracy is paying attention to the state of the union, being aware of what needs to come next and acting in unison to hold powerful people, and the institutions they embody, in check.

Only now, with a camera in every corner of the globe, can we see that this is a global crisis. The Restless Many becoming Fed-up with the Prosperous Few - to paraphrase the title of Noam Chomsky's book "The Prosperous Few and the Restless Many".

Whole countries and populations are at risk of starvation while massive amounts of money are being siphoned from the bottom of the pyramid (the masses) and redistributed to the top of the pyramid (the prosperous few) through various means of business and investment shenanigans, all the while, justified by very intelligent people in very expensive suits.

The Will To Power. It is our job, as voters, as world-citizens, to be a stop-gap to that impulse. The impulse to take land, labor or mineral resource without regard to consequence for those who fall beneath a certain median on the ladder of status and influence.

It won't be easy but we can see that it has already started.

I believe this is only the beginning. I believe this movement, this moment, crosses all cultural and religious boundaries. I believe that each government is going to have to reconcile the needs of its struggling people and the avarice of its richest citizens and institutions.

Or, at least, that's the way it seems to me,

Monday, January 24, 2011

Shut in No More - Why I Created

As President Obama prepares for his State of the Union address I don't think anyone would be too surprised to find that the focus of his speech will be centered on the need to get Americans back to work. I suspect the unofficial title reads something like, "Jobs. Jobs. Jobs". Though, if James Carville had his way there would probably be a massive banner hanging in Congress that simply reads: "It's the Unemployment, stupid".

Get people back to work and the rest will follow. It sounds so simple, yet much of the anger in this country and around the globe centers on the very real shortage of gainful employment. The inability for people to feed their families, provide shelter, health-care and a decent education for their loved-ones.

What happened to our ability to successfully employ our citizenry? Was it the closing of factories and reopening them in third world countries for cheaper labor and even cheaper materials? The loss of manufacturing industries? Importing more than we export? Market bubbles produced by fraudulent corporate shenanigans designed to hide our lack of economic stability? Or, is it a lack of innovation and initiative in moving ourselves into the next era of energy collection, storage and utilization for fear of losing our strong-hold in a carbon driven global market?

I think most people would agree the answer to all, or most, of those questions would have to be "yes". The underlying factor of our woes ("our", meaning the teaming masses) is "Profit Over People"...crunching numbers and crushing people in the process.

Oil, because it is finite, dwindling and stone-age, means destabilization and war. Solar, wind and thermal, because they are all renewable, in need of creative solutions and forward thinking, means jobs and innovation which provides a path to Peace.

But jobs will not lead to Peace unless there is a foundation of justice for the labor force. An agreement to ensure that all workers have the ability to support their families and build infrastructure in their communities. The right to a Universal Living Wage.

The biggest argument for giving in to corporate pressure is the oft-heard excuse that we have to make our state and nation business-friendly or corporations will simply take their business elsewhere. But what if they couldn't?

What if corporations were bound by good neighbor laws? The basic understanding that you can't rape a community for profit then simply move on to the next town. What if we take away that "next town"?

That is the idea...the hope...the dream behind - that we are all in this together and it's about time we act on that truism.

At least, that's the way it seems to me,

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

China - by annienomad - cyberpoet

I wrote this poem a couple of years ago and I thought it might be an appropriate post in honor of President Jintao's visit.

Please try and look past my demeanor in this video. I'm not sure if my camera is working and my nervousness sometimes causes me to lose the lower register in my voice. I cringe a little every time I watch it but I really do like (and am sincere about) the sentiment.

I know not everyone will agree with my point of view on this matter but I respect their right to disagree:)

At least, that's the way it seems to me,

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

MLK Jr. - Reflecting On A Day Of Reflection

Surfing channels, watching the one or two minute segments allotted for remembrance and reflection on Martin Luther King Day, I was struck by the lack of in-depth analysis and discussion of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr's message - but it wasn't until I tuned into “Democracy Now” that I realized just how shallow and surface the discussion of his message is routinely handled in mainstream media.

Most of us are familiar with, awed by and stand humbled before Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech, delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963. It is an historic miracle of oration delivered to a sea of hopeful, determined American citizens who not only shared in that dream but who were willing to use their minds, bodies and voices to bring that dream to fruition….the dream of freedom and justice for all Americans.
Theirs was the dream of civil rights, realized. And Dr. King  accomplished much in bringing that message to the hearts and minds of citizens of every race and creed across America.

But few of us seem to be aware of Martin Luther King Jr - the sharp anti-war critic.
I had mostly heard his call to non-violence in the context of civil rights for minorities and his challenge to those who would call themselves morally superior, even while keeping a race oppressed, disenfranchised and drowning in poverty.
I had heard him challenge the powers that be…the men and women who stand against change and for the status quo, the ones who were willing to bloody peaceful, unarmed, demonstrators marching for the very Christ-like value of equality and justice, regardless of race or culture. But I had never heard Dr. King's "Beyond Vietnam" speech before. Well, maybe short excerpts, but a large comprehensive chunk of it? No. Not until last night when Amy Goodman, anchor and creator of  “Democracy Now”, devoted most of yesterday's broadcast to that amazing indictment of a super-power gone wrong.

His speech is moving, it is clear-eyed, it is brave. "Beyond Vietnam" should be used by teachers everywhere – in grade school, high school and institutions of higher education as a model for "Speaking Truth To Power". 

Dr. King famously said, “An injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere”.  Which makes speaking truth to power a necessary and obligatory checks and balances for all democratic societies, or any voluntary association to function properly and sustain its integrity.  
Yes, hierarchy is more expedient. It is more efficient at maintaining control, but it also pushes all entitlements to the top, assumes all ownership of ideas and innovations of those under their command and is therefore a structure deliberately purposed for theft.     
Which is what the dream of America has become. It is a terrible thing to watch a person or a country you love lose their way, it’s kind of like watching a Super-Hero turn Evil. It feels like you've lost a piece of yourself, or a large piece of you has died. Especially, when that Hero or loved one, suddenly sees you and your challenge of their value shift as a thing to be silenced, or destroyed.

There is a great fear among the rich that if they bend toward actual justice, a restructuring of the way business is done in the world, kind of justice…they will lose their privilege, their carefully strategized advantage. Classism is the foundation of enslavement - keep a people down and they will do anything to survive, including clean your house and pick your cotton.
The Fear of Change - that is the evil that Martin Luther King Jr, his family, and his community of supporters had to live under and struggle through. That was the artillery leveled against his message. And eventually, that was the ordnance that found its mark.
But while that fear may have ended the man's life…it could not silence his message. Nor could it stop the momentum of self-examination and self-realization that his message set in motion – the very heart and seed of Change.

Here is the link to yesterday's broadcast for those of you who haven't heard the speech. Con-sidering the current rumors of war being floated around the country regarding Syria, and then later Iran...I highly recommend it.

At least, that's the way it seems to me,

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Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Organizing The (Global) Garage

Staring into the vast landscape of a chaotic, upended mass of human folly, confusion, enterprise-gone-terribly-wrong or simply unchecked - I find myself wondering...hmm, where to start?

If we remove the wrong piece the whole thing could collapse. And even if we manage to lay it all out so that we can survey the remnants of a sometimes brilliant/sometimes shameful evolutionary history to view the evidence of where we've been, what we've accomplished and much of what we've forgotten, how could we possibly devise a plan or structure to accommodate all areas of endeavor?

We live in such a fragmented world on the ground, yet to view Earth from a distance we are a whole.

How do we come together?

There are many worthy, sincere movements underway (I've started a few myself) and some progress is evident but we are still divided. We are scattered and divisive. We are confused and our confusion spills out in violence.

We need to simplify. The essence of organization is simplification - this goes over here, that goes over there, we need a special shelf for this and this we don't need any more so let's throw it out. Which is fine for organizing material goods but what about people? There has already been enough division of peoples based on color, culture, gender and status.

I believe the basis for organizing people is justice. A foundation of civil rights and equality - not just for our own group, not just for our own country, not just for our own gender. Universal Rights.

What do I mean by Universal Rights? I mean no entity - personal, governmental or corporate has the right to subject any individual or group to conditions that undermines their health, physical freedom or right to express their ideas in an open forum.

Sounds simple, I know, but it's amazing to me how far afield we can stray from such a basic idea. Assumptions, justifications, rationales and deliberate misdirection make such a reality possible.

Deliberate misdirection? Yes. Much of the history of mankind is conquest. Whether it is the conquering of an outside entity or the oppression of one's own people, history is a record of the ambitious and greedy mapping out a plan for grabbing territory and resource while devising believable justifications for implementing such plans.

This plan only works, however, as long as people blindly follow the official story of authority. In other words, PR. Public Relations is the new propaganda -whether "left" or "right".

Patriotism, Religion, Party Politics - these cultural tools are often used to actively cultivate fear of an outside force, whether foreign or domestic, in order to influence the perception of the masses. They deliberately manufacture enemies. They can always find an enemy. After all, you poke someone long enough behind the scenes and they will lash out - then you can condemn the lashing out and do what you already wanted to do, which is to justify your oppression of them and/or occupy their land.

Who else but the unsuspecting would offer up their children for battle if the only reason for blood-shed is monetary gain for the top 1% in the world? No one would.

So again I say, Universal Rights - fair treatment of citizens and workers globally. No country should be able to oppress another country in order to enrich its own people (War) and no class should be able to dupe its citizens into a massive transfer of wealth (Wall Street).

Wherever there is extreme poverty there is corruption or the after-effects of extreme abuse - such as the case in Haiti which suffered at the hands of the French. Mexico and South America, which suffered at the hands of the United States. Or Africa and India, which suffered dearly at the hands of the English, etc.

Lets organize our thinking. Lets organize our humanity. Lets organize our vision.

Lets put everything in its place so we can see where we stand and create a clear space in which we can all work together, unobstructed, to build more aware and meaningful lives.

Or, at least, that's the way it seems to me,

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Watchful Eye - The Satellite Sentinel Project

Sudan, one of Africa's largest nations, is at a crossroads. In just two days, January 9th, north and south will vote on a referendum that will determine whether or not Sudan will stay united or split into two separate countries.

We are witnessing, what could possibly be, the birth of a nation and like worried  family members we are pacing the waiting-room floor praying for celebratory news. But there is much reason for concern, as this has been predicted to be a difficult birth.

I've been in a quandary myself as I (a citizen of the United States with no personal vested interest other than I would dearly love to see a continent wracked with pain and suffering emerge triumphant out of a long and treacherous night of a collective soul) grapple with the question of whether or not separation is the best way forward. As, I imagine, everyone involved in this decision, this hope, this act of faith has grappled...far more than I.

I've wondered what would've happened to America if the south had seceded from the north. Would America have survived? Lincoln didn't think so. The official story is that the Civil War was fought over slavery, which it was, but it was also fought to keep the south from seceding and taking most of the maritime ports with it. It was about commerce. It's always about commerce.

The difference between America's civil war and Sudan's civil war was that America as a nation was working. To divide the Union would have destroyed the balance of power between the industrialized north and the agricultural south.

This is not, I believe, the case in Sudan. There is no balance of power. The developed north ruthlessly dominates the rural south even though the south has rich oil reserves which should give them some leverage in negotiating with the north. This will not be the case, however, if the south can not get out from under the boot of its northern brothers.

Which brings us to the referendum - a moment fraught with extreme danger. The danger of war. The danger of genocide. The danger of continued injustice and unimaginable acts of inhumanity.

And this is where the Satellite Sentinel Project comes in. The Satellite Sentinel Project, a joint effort funded and sponsored by the Enough Project, Not On Our Watch, Harvard University, Trellon and Google has put an eye in the sky over Sudan.

John Prendergast, co-founder of Enough! and George Clooney, one of the co-founders of Not On Our Watch, have been working tirelessly to shine a light on Sudan for several years now. Knowing that most atrocities occur while no one is paying attention they have spearheaded a plan to help prevent the very real and imminent threat of a bloody massacre before, during, and immediately following the aftermath of the referendum using the latest technology in global surveillance.

A Watchful Eye. Is it troops on the ground? No. But a watchful eye, by way of shocking and heartbreaking media images, eventually helped bring about a Civil Rights movement in America. A watchful eye beaming images of death and destruction the likes of which only the eyes of soldiers had ever before witnessed eventually helped end the Vietnam War.

Perhaps we could stand to lose the "eventually". Perhaps with the hindsight of history we can embrace the foresight of  lessons that should have been learned by now. We can't afford to look away as a nation but more importantly we can't afford to look away as a species.

I understand that politics is "complicated". That the question of commerce will always be a factor. But I also understand that for any hope of justice there must be a balance of power. Between right and left, between rich and poor, between right and wrong.

So let's be watchful,

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Boehner and his Big Gavel...

I have been feeling for sometime now that it is a testament to effective mind-control that all media outlets, including radio/television/online rants etc., consistently refer to former House Republican Majority Leader John Boehner (now the House Speaker) as "Bay-ner" rather than "Boner", which is what the spelling of his name would imply. (Even spell-check thinks so...go ahead spell-check his name.)

Well, today I feel that observation was somewhat justified when Nancy Pelosi handed over the House Speaker gavel to the new House Speaker Boehner. Apparently, it was the "largest" gavel in the House, which Nancy took the time to point out, was at his expressed request.

I guess Boehner's not-so-subtle message is that Congress has its "wood" back.

On a much sadder note...musician Gerry Rafferty died Tuesday at the age of 63. He was the author of two of my favorite songs, "The Right Moment" and "Stuck In The Middle With You", the listening of which Tarantino altered forever in the wrenching scene from his 1992 film "Reservoir Dogs".

Gerry's talent will be sorely missed.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Knock...Knock...Who's There?... Me!


Today is January 4, 2011 and this is my first blog entry. So let me introduce myself. My name is sharee anne gorman also known as annienomad - cyberpoet in some parts.

I have several areas of interest and thought starting a blog might be a good way to sort of bring them all together under one roof, so to speak.

I don't want to take over the world. I just want what I think most of us want - a little corner that we can call our own. A place where we can be ourselves, think our own thoughts, have meaningful conversations and share our insights in an artistic, thoughtful a form or forum that we can be proud of.

Today is about introductions so feel free to look around. Check out my links. See if you find anything that rings a bell of mutual interest or inspires thought.

And I'll see you in cyberspace,