“Jerry Garcia performed thousands of times, and he was the only one who heard every performance.
The same is true for the work you’ve created, the writing you’ve done, the noise in your head–you’re the only person who has heard every bit of it.
Tell us what we need to know. Not because you need to hear yourself repeat it, but because you believe we need to hear it.
Take your time and lay it out for us, without worrying about whether or not we’ve heard you say it before. We probably haven’t.”
‘Superman could bend steel with his bare hands.
Along the way, we’ve been sold on the idea that difficult tasks ought to be left to heroes, often from somewhere far away or from long ago. That it’s up to them, whoever ‘them’ is.
The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. quoted Theodore Parker: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
But it’s not bending itself. And it’s not waiting for someone from away to bend it either.
It’s on us. Even when it doesn’t work (yet). Even when it’s difficult. Even when it’s inconvenient.
Our culture is the result of a trillion tiny acts, taken by billions of people, every day. Each of them can seem insignificant, but all of them add up, one way or the other, to the change we each live through.
Sometimes it takes a hero like Dr. King to wake us up and remind us of how much power we actually have.
And now it’s our turn. It always has been.’
WHEN WILL THIS END? WHEN ENOUGH PEOPLE CARE.
If you have been affected in any way by the event in Las Vegas on October 1 2017, the Vegas Strong Resiliency Center is there to help.
Vegas Strong Resiliency Center
The Vegas Strong Resiliency Center is a place of healing and support dedicated to serving as a multi-agency resource and referral center for residents, visitors and responders affected by the shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival. The Center is managed by Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada, and is staffed by knowledgeable and caring professionals to help people access resources to help them build strength and resiliency in the aftermath of this incident.
Please contact or visit the following organizations to find out how you can help or learn more about putting an end to senseless gun violence, or to help survivors and their families.
Led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, our organization works to tackle America’s gun violence crisis. We are on a mission to save lives from gun violence by shifting culture, changing policies, and challenging injustice. A safer America is possible — one where our children can grow up without fear of gun violence — and that is why we’re in this fight.
Brady United Against Gun Violence
A comprehensive approach to preventing gun violence, Brady is committed to delivering life-saving change and comprehensive solutions to the American people. We owe it to ourselves, our families, and our communities to keep all Americans safe.
Everytown For Gun Safety
Everytown is a movement of Americans working together to end gun violence and build safer communities. Gun violence touches every town in America.
Sandy Hook Promise
Sandy Hook Promise’s mission is to create a culture engaged in preventing shootings, violence, and other harmful acts in schools. Sandy Hook Promise is a moderate, above-the-politics organization that supports sensible program and policy solutions that address the “human side” of gun violence by preventing individuals from ever getting to the point of picking up a firearm to hurt themselves or others. Their words, actions, and impact nationwide are intended to honor all victims of gun violence by turning our tragedy into a moment of transformation.
March For Our Lives
March For Our Lives’ mission is to harness the power of young people across the country to fight for sensible gun violence prevention policies that save lives.
Survivors Empowered is an organization founded by Sandy and Lonnie Phillips after the slaughter of their daughter, Jessica Redfield Ghawi and eleven others in the Aurora Colorado Theater Mass Shooting in 2012. Their original non-profit, Jessi’s Message, has grown into Survivors Empowered – a national organization created By Survivors, For Survivors, Empowering Survivors. They provide support and referrals for services to survivors of violence, and connect them to a support network of other survivors in their area. They also train survivors how to tell their stories in a compelling way to speak to the issue of violence in their communities.
CEA Fund For August 3rd Survivors Educational Needs:
This fund was established for the children who lost parents due to the tragic event in El Paso, TX on August 3 with support to continue their education.
And if a storm should come
And if you face a wave
That may be the chance for you to be saved.
Fr. Richard Rohr:
The spiral feeds upon itself. The individual zealot tries to rise above “the rotten, decadent system,”  as Dorothy Day called it, by attempting solutions that usually attack the symptoms. That attempt may make the individual and the state feel moral, but it rarely touches the underlying causes. Think of the policies that led the United States to build a wall at the border instead of honestly asking why people want to come to begin with. Why was a wall terrible in Berlin but salvific in Juarez, San Diego, and the present state of Israel? We criminalize the actions of desperate individuals, but rarely question the global economic systems and untouchable corporations that keep such unequal circumstances in place for their own gain.
In dangerous times like these we have to produce generations of dedicated, courageous, and creative contemplative activists who will join [the conscious collective] to bring radical healing and change to this damaged world, before it’s too late.
If you stick a knife in my back 9 inches and pull it out 6 inches, there’s no progress. If you pull it all the way out, that’s not progress.
The progress is healing the wound that the blow made.
When someone disagrees with you today, stay present, listen, and then let them solve the problem.
Problems are transformed when we are present.
-Judith Hanson Lasater, PhD
“By contemplation, we mean the deliberate seeking of God through a willingness to detach from the passing self, the tyranny of emotions, the addiction to self-image, and the false promises of the world. Action, as we are using the word, means a decisive commitment toward involvement and engagement in the social order. Issues will not be resolved by mere reflection, discussion, or even prayer, nor will they be resolved only by protests, boycotts, or even, unfortunately by voting the “right” way. Rather, God “works together with” all those who love (see Romans 8:28).”
The only way out and through—for either side of any dualism, including that between action and contemplation—is a kind of universal forgiveness of Reality for being what it is; it thus becomes the bonding glue of grace which heals all the separations which law, religion, or logic can never finally or fully restore.
-Fr. Richard Rohr
“It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, 1967.
Prayer, contemplation, is freedom and affirmation growing out of nothingness into love. Prayer is the flowering of our inmost freedom, in response to the Word. Prayer is not only dialogue with God: it is the communication of our freedom with ultimate freedom in infinite spirit. It is the elevation of our limited freedom into the infinite freedom of the divine spirit and of the divine love. Prayer is the encounter of our freedom with all the all-embracing charity which knows no limit and knows no obstacle. Prayer is an emergence into this area of infinite freedom. Prayer, contemplation, then, is not an abject procedure, though sometimes it may spring from our abjection. But prayer is not something that is meant to maintain us in servility and helplessness. We take stock of our own wretchedness at the beginning of prayer, contemplation, in order to rise beyond it and above it to infinite freedom and infinite creative love in God.
-Thomas Merton, Contemplation in a World of Action, 1965
When do we
become one with earth and stars?
It is not achieved, a young friend, by being in love,
however vibrant that makes your voice.
Learn to forget you sang like that. It passes.
Truly to sing takes another kind of breath.
A breath in the void. A shudder in God. A wind.
-Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus I, 3
Because Jesus did not directly attack the religious and institutional systems of his time until his final action against the money changers in the temple , his primary social justice critique and action are a disappointment to most radicals and social activists. Jesus’ social program, as far as I can see, was a quiet refusal to participate in almost all external power structures or domination systems. Once we have been told this, we see it everywhere in the four Gospels. Jesus chose a very simple lifestyle which kept him from being constantly co-opted by those very structures, which we can call the sin system.
The city of Sepphoris was the Roman regional capital of Galilee and the center for most money, jobs, and power in the region where Jesus lived. It was just nine miles from Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth. Yet there is no record that Jesus ever went there, nor is it mentioned once in the New Testament, even though he and his father, Joseph, were carpenters or “workmen” and Jesus traveled through many other cities much farther away. He also seems to have avoided the money system as much as possible by using “a common purse” (John 12:6, 13:29)—voluntary “communism,” we might say.
Jesus was finally a full victim of the systems that he refused to worship. Is this not a much more coherent explanation of why Jesus died?
What can we learn from Jesus’ life about how we might address the systems of inequity and oppression in our own cultures? One lesson seems to me that we have to “start local.”
He simply goes around doing what he knows to be right, which he surely discovered during his long periods of solitude and silence (a form of contemplation) on the outskirts of town, and others begin to join him.
-Fr. Richard Rohr, Center for Action and Contemplation
Love it when smart people draw outside the lines. -d
A modest proposal to save American democracy
A law journal just floated a wild idea to add 127 more states to the union. And it’s all constitutional.
American democracy is broken.
We have a president who lost the popular vote, a Senate where the “majority” represents about 15 million fewer people than the “minority,” and a Supreme Court where two justices were nominated by that president and confirmed by that unrepresentative Senate.
An unsigned note, entitled “Pack the Union: A Proposal to Admit New States for the Purpose of Amending the Constitution to Ensure Equal Representation” and published in the Harvard Law Review, offers an entirely constitutional way out of this dilemma: Add new states — a lot of new states — then use this bloc of states to rewrite the Constitution so that the United States has an election system “where every vote counts equally.”
To create a system where every vote counts equally, the Constitution must be amended. To do this, Congress should pass legislation reducing the size of Washington, D.C., to an area encompassing only a few core federal buildings and then admit the rest of the District’s 127 neighborhoods as states. These states — which could be added with a simple congressional majority — would add enough votes in Congress to ratify four amendments: (1) a transfer of the Senate’s power to a body that represents citizens equally; (2) an expansion of the House so that all citizens are represented in equal-sized districts; (3) a replacement of the Electoral College with a popular vote; and (4) a modification of the Constitution’s amendment process that would ensure future amendments are ratified by states representing most Americans.
Under the Constitution, new states may be admitted by an ordinary act of Congress with a simple majority vote. The Constitution does, however, prevent new states from being carved out of an existing state unless the legislature of that state consents. Chopping up the District of Columbia gets around this problem because Washington, DC, is not a state.
One can quarrel with the details of the Harvard proposal. Ratifying a constitutional amendment, for example, requires the consent of three-fourths of the states. So it makes more sense to divide the District of Columbia into 150 states, rather than 127 states, to ensure that pro-democracy amendments will actually be ratified. (Under the Harvard proposal, there would be 177 states, so 133 of them would have to agree to a new amendment. That means that six existing states would need to play along.)
Indeed, there is a long history of partisans selectively admitting new states in order to pack the Senate with their own fellow partisans. In 1864, for example, Republicans admitted the state of Nevada — then a desert wasteland with only several thousand residents — giving themselves two extra Senate seats in the process.
Similarly, the reason why there are two Dakotas is because Republicans celebrated their victory in the 1888 election by dividing the Republican Dakota Territory up into two states, thereby giving themselves four senators instead of only two.
So let’s be frank. The Harvard note’s proposal is ridiculous, but it is no more ridiculous than a system where the nearly 40 million people in California have no more Senate representation than the 578,759 people in Wyoming. As the Harvard note says of its own pitch, “radical as this proposal may sound, it is no more radical than a nominally democratic system of government that gives citizens widely disproportionate voting power depending on where they live.”
Pack the Union: A Proposal to Admit New States for the Purpose of Amending the Constitution to Ensure Equal Representation
The problem of unequal representation is rooted in provisions of the Constitution that treat citizens living in different places differently. These provisions date to the Constitutional Convention, but in many respects, the present state of affairs does not reflect the Framers’ intentions. Developments since ratification call into question the inequality of the status quo, which has a substantial effect on public policy and is likely to get worse unless it is addressed.
But even when democracy is messy, a society’s commitment to the endeavor rests on the belief that giving power to the people is appropriate and fair. Recent events have highlighted some of the ways in which federal elections in the United States are profoundly undemocratic and, thus, profoundly unfair.
The Electoral College — when it contravenes the popular vote — is an obvious example of this unfairness. But it is just one of the mathematically undemocratic features in the Constitution. Equal representation of states in the Senate, for example, gives citizens of low-population states undue influence in Congress. Conversely, American citizens residing in U.S. territories have no meaningful representation in Congress or the Electoral College.
If we truly hold to be self-evident that all are created equal, The Declaration of Independence para. 2 (U.S. 1776), then it is time to amend the Constitution to ensure that all votes are treated equally. Just as it was unfair to exclude women and minorities from the franchise, so too is it unfair to weight votes differently. The 600,000 residents of Wyoming and the 40,000,000 residents of California, should not be represented by the same number of senators. Nor should some citizens get to vote for President, while others do not. Any rationalization of the status quo must adopt the famous Orwellian farce: “All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.” George Orwell, Animal Farm 112 (1946).
“Facebook is a crime scene.”
“Last year data surpassed oil in value.”
“Democracy for sale.”
Democracy Now! this past week aired a 6-part report focusing on a new Oscar-shortlisted documentary called “The Great Hack” which argues Cambridge Analytica has played a significant role not just in the U.S. election but in elections across the globe. The company harvested some 87 million Facebook profiles without the users’ knowledge or consent and used the data to sway voters during the 2016 campaign. Data organizations have 5,000 data points on every U.S. voter. DN! spoke with the directors of “The Great Hack,” Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer, as well as former Cambridge Analytica employee Brittany Kaiser and propaganda researcher Emma Briant.
- Brittany Kaiser a Cambridge Analytica whistleblower who is featured in the documentary The Great Hack. Her book is titled Targeted: The Cambridge Analytica Whistleblower’s Inside Story of How Big Data, Trump, and Facebook Broke Democracy and How It Can Happen Again.
- Karim Amer co-director of The Great Hack, which has been shortlisted for an Academy Award.
- Jehane Noujaim co-director of The Great Hack, which has been shortlisted for an Academy Award. Her previous films include The Square and Control Room
Emma Briant: “I just wanted to make a point about how important this is for ordinary Americans to understand the significance for their own lives, as well, because I think some people hear this, and they think, “Oh, tech, this is maybe quite abstract,” or, you know, they may feel that other issues are more important when it comes to election time. But I want to make the point that, actually, you know what? This subject is about all of those other issues. I also think that we need an independent regulator for the tech industry and also a separate one for the influence industry. So, America has some regulation when it comes to lobbying. In the U.K., we have none. And quite often, you know, American companies will partner with a British company in order to be able to get around doing things, for instance. We have to make sure that different countries’ jurisdictions cannot be, you know, abused in order to make something happen that would be forbidden in another country.
We need to make sure that we’re also tackling how money is being channeled into these campaigns, because, actually, there’s an awful lot we could do that isn’t just about censoring or taking down content, but that actually is, you know, about making sure that the money isn’t being funneled in to the — to fund these actual campaigns. If we knew who was behind them, if we were able to show which companies were working on them and what other interests they might have, then I think this would really open up the system to better journalism, to better — you know, more accountability.
And the issue isn’t just about what’s happening on the platforms, although that is a big part of it. We have to think about, you know, the whole infrastructure.”
Karim Amer: “I think what’s even more worrisome is that a lot of our technology companies, I would say, are incentivized now by the polarization of the American people. The more polarized, the more you spend time on the platform checking the endless feed, the more you’re hooked, the more you’re glued, the more their KPI at the end of the year, which says number of hours spent per user on platform, goes up. And as long as that’s the model, then everything is designed, from the way you interact with these devices to the way your news is sorted and fed to you, to keep you on, as hooked as possible, in this completely unregulated, unfiltered way — under the guise of freedom of speech when it’s selectively there for them to protect their interests further. And I think that’s very worrisome.
And we have to ask these technology companies: Would there be a Silicon Valley if the ideals of the open society were not in place? Would Silicon Valley be this refuge for the world’s engineers of the future to come reimagine what the future could look like, had there not been the foundations of an open society? There would not be. Yet the same people who are profiting off of these ideals protecting them feel no responsibility in their preservation. And that is what is so upsetting. That is what is so criminal. And that is why we cannot look to them for leadership on how to get out of this.
We have to look at the regulation. You know, if Facebook was fined $50 billion instead of five, I guarantee you we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now.”
Jehane Noujaim: “Democracy has been broken. And our first vote is happening in 28 days, and nothing has changed. No election laws have changed. Facebook’s a crime scene. No research, nothing has come out. We don’t understand it yet. This was why we felt so passionate about making this film, because it’s invisible. How do you make the invisible visible? And this is why Brittany is releasing these files, because unless we understand the tactics, which are currently being used again, right now, as we speak, same people involved, then we can’t change this.”
Brittany Kaiser: Former Cambridge Analytica employees are currently supporting TRUMP 2020. They are working in countries all around the world with individual political consultancies, marketing consultancies, strategic communication firms […] there are now hundreds of these companies all around the world. […] And I’m absolutely terrified to see what is going to happen on our newsfeeds between now and November 3rd.
What news and information consumers can do:
- Educate. Become digitally literate.
- Look on the website of the Center for Humane Technology. https://humanetech.com
- Look on the website of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. https://www.eff.org
- Look at the Beacon Trust website. https://www.beacontrustnetwork.com/our-team
- Read the Contract for the Web. https://contractfortheweb.org
- Visit The Center for Media Literacy. https://www.medialit.org
There is a new concept called DQ. It means digital intelligence, like IQ or EQ. And its a new global standard that my new foundation, the Own Your Date Foundation, is helping roll out in schools in America, that actually teach kids these things, ow to prevent cyberbullying and bet ethical online and identify fake news and disinformation.
WE HAVE TO EMPOWER OURSELVES TO PROTECT OURSELVES.
CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATORS.
(‘Just type in ‘contact you’re legislator.’)
New Year’s Eve 2019.
Hi friends. This is my final post on fb. 2.2 billion people, a third of humanity, log on across the planet every hour, I don’t think Zuck will miss me much. Nonetheless, 17 million Americans have left FB in the last two years because of disinformation and political manipulation. Mark Zuckerberg made an additional $27 billion last year alone; he won’t be changing his behaviors any time soon. He throws all that he does under the free speech/innovation bus. His modus operandi has always been to act first, apologize later. Literal early company motto: ‘Move fast and break things.’ Based on past behaviors and weak rhetoric, I don’t think he has the moral compass to steer a moral path. He doesn’t have the emotional or compassionate intelligence to consider the meaning of truth, the limits of free speech, and the origins of violence. Peter Thiel, a billionaire who sits on his board, is the guy who once wrote democracy was weakened when women received the right to vote. Good guy. Zuckerberg is now at the center of a full-fledged debate about the moral character of Silicon Valley and the conscience of its leaders.
In their opinion piece for January 1st, 2020, Idaho Mountain Express offered their New Year’s resolution for fb and Zuckerberg: “To take legal responsibility for what his platform has wrought by making it a publisher instead of a filthy rich exploiter of unsuspecting Americans.” Right on.
In 1915, Louis Brandeis, the reformer and future Supreme Court Justice, testified before a congressional committee about the dangers of corporations large enough that they could achieve a level of near-sovereignty “so powerful that the ordinary social and industrial forces existing are insufficient to cope with it.” He called this the “curse of bigness.” Tim Wu, a Columbia law-school professor and the author of a forthcoming book inspired by Brandeis’s phrase, said “Today, no sector exemplifies more clearly the threat of bigness to democracy than Big Tech.” He added, “When a concentrated private power has such control over what we see and hear, it has a power that rivals or exceeds that of elected government.”
A healthy market should produce competitors to Facebook that position themselves as ethical alternatives, collecting less data and seeking a smaller share of user attention. Like it or not, Zuckerberg is a gatekeeper. The era when Facebook could learn by doing, and fix the mistakes later, is over. The costs are too high, and idealism is not a defense against negligence.
I’ll miss my connections on this platform, my ol’ radio buds, sorority sisters, our community…I even reconnected with a dear junior high school friend from San Diego. We were 14 years old when we met. I will miss the ease in posting and sharing information. I remain hopeful someone will create a new social media site that will allow us to have a nonaddictive, advertising-free space that guards against foreign influence and disinformation, honoring privacy and our personal data. From Free Press: ‘We must have control over how our personal information is used, and prohibit its use to build systems that oppress, discriminate, disenfranchise and exacerbate segregation.’
I don’t Instagram or engage on WhatsApp…all Zuckerberg. I stay with twitter, where I follow various news organizations and journalists, because owner Jack Dorsey has committed to eliminating political ads and just recently launched a research project called Bluesky, researching decentralized technical standards for social media platforms making it easier to enforce rules against hate speech and other abuses.
The early hope for internet democracy has evaporated into a dystopian space that has weakened our democracy with dangerous disinformation, false political ads and foreign algorithms. We haven’t even begun to deal with ‘deep fake’ video yet, given media in general, the press specifically, have not found a way to authenticate what’s real and what isn’t. This virtual mess is only going to get worse.
In India, the largest market for Facebook’s WhatsApp service, hoaxes have triggered riots, lynchings, and fatal beatings. Local officials resorted to shutting down the Internet sixty-five times last year. In Libya, people took to Facebook to trade weapons, and armed groups relayed the locations of targets for artillery strikes. In Sri Lanka, after a Buddhist mob attacked Muslims this spring over a false rumor, a Presidential adviser said, “The germs are ours, but Facebook is the wind.”
Nowhere has the damage been starker than in Myanmar, where the Rohingya Muslim minority has been subject to brutal killings, gang rapes, and torture. In 2012, around one per cent of the country’s population had access to the Internet. Three years later, that figure had reached twenty-five per cent. Phones often came preloaded with the Facebook app, and Buddhist extremists seeking to inflame ethnic tensions with the Rohingya mastered the art of misinformation.
Beginning in 2013, a series of experts on Myanmar met with Facebook officials to warn them that it was fueling attacks on the genocide. David Madden, an entrepreneur based in Myanmar, delivered a presentation to officials at the Menlo Park headquarters, pointing out that the company was playing a role akin to that of the radio broadcasts that spread hatred during the
In 2011, the company asked the FEC [Federal Election Commission] for an exemption to rules requiring the source of funding for political ads to be disclosed. In filings, a Facebook lawyer argued that the agency “should not stand in the way of innovation.” Another default argument. It became a running joke among employees that Facebook could tilt an election just by choosing where to deploy its “I Voted” button.
The 2016 election was <supposed> to be good for Facebook. That January, fb COO and billionaire Sheryl Sandberg told investors that the election would be “a big deal in terms of ad spend,” comparable to the Super Bowl and the World Cup. According to Borrell Associates, a research and consulting firm, candidates and other political groups were on track to spend $1.4 billion online in the election, up ninefold from four years earlier.
During the campaign, Trump used Facebook to raise two hundred and eighty million dollars. Just days before the election, his team paid for a voter-suppression effort on the platform. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, it targeted three Democratic constituencies—“idealistic white liberals, young women, and African Americans”—sending them videos precisely tailored to discourage them from turning out for Clinton.
***Theresa Hong, the Trump campaign’s digital-content director, later told an interviewer, “Without Facebook we wouldn’t have won.”***
Facebook admits a pro-Trump media outlet used artificial intelligence to create fake people and push conspiracies.
In September of 2017, after Robert Mueller obtained a search warrant, Facebook agreed to give his office an inventory of ads linked to Russia and the details of who had paid for them. In October, Facebook disclosed that Russian operatives had published about eighty thousand posts, reaching a hundred and twenty-six million Americans.
Last year, Facebook spent $11.5 million on lobbying in Washington, ranking it between the American Bankers Association and General Dynamics among top spenders. Money…I mean, power and greed…along with behavior modification technology… pretty much defines how we landed here. FB is the epicenter of persuasive technology.
#2020 is going to be a ride. Buckle up. Stay vigilant. Be proactive consumers of news and information. Take the Pro-Truth pledge. And V O T E. It is imperative we remember our democracy is fragile and it fails without ‘we the people.’ Activist Greta Thunberg wrote today, “This coming decade humanity will decide it’s future. Let’s make it the best one we can. We have to do the impossible. So let’s get started.”
I’ll miss you, my fb friends. Happy New Year. Be safe. Only peace.
[In context of fb’s persuasive behavior modification techniques, my pages will stay active for about 30 days and then evaporate. If I log on anytime during those 30 days post depletion, the pages will re-activate, so I won’t be able to read any comments to my final fb post. Just email me, email@example.com, follow me on twitter, @DayleOhlau, or my website, daylescommunitycafe.com. ♡]
‘In dangerous times like these we have to produce generations of dedicated, courageous, and creative contemplative activists who will join [the conscious collective] to bring radical healing and change to this damaged world, before it’s too late.’ -Fr. Richard Rohr
We are Quakers and friends changing public policy.
Rescue teams on January 8, 2020 at the scene of a Ukrainian airliner that crashed shortly after take-off near Imam Khomeini airport in the Iranian capital Tehran.
“The solitary is, first of all, one who renounces arbitrary social imagery. When his nation wins a war or sends a rocket to the moon, he can get along without feeing as if he personally had won the war or hit the moon with ar rocket. When his nation is rich and arrogant, he does not feel that he himself is more fortunate anymore honest, as well as more powerful, than the citizens of other, more ‘backward’ nations. More than this, he is able to despise war and to see the futility of rockets to the moon in a way quite different and more fundamental from the way in which society may tolerate these negative views. That is to say, he despises the criminal, blood thirsty arrogance of his own nation or class as much as that of the ‘the enemy.’ He despises his own self -seeking aggressively as much as that of the politicians who hypocritically pretend they are fighting for peace.”
-Actor Michelle Williams at the Golden Globes
“I believe that hopelessness is the enemy of justice.”
Michael B. Jordan (left) as Bryan Stevenson and Jame Foxx as Walter McMillian in “Just Mercy.”
(Photo by Jake Giles Netter/Warner Bros. Pictures)
Bryan Stevenson: “Many people, most people in this country don’t want there to be inequality and injustice. They don’t want people to be treated unfairly or cruelly. I just think if you get closer to it, you’ll be motivated to say more, to do more. I do hope people that see this film will walk away with a greater consciousness about why we need to do better in this country when it comes to creating a justice system that is fair and reliable.”
On addressing racist legacies, which have contributed to nearly 42% of death row inmates being black
“I think we do have to begin talking more honestly about our history of racial injustice. I don’t think our country has ever engaged in any meaningful process of acknowledging the injustice, the inequality. I think we’re a post-genocide society. What we did to Native people was a genocide, and we haven’t acknowledged that. And we’ve allowed systems to continue that have been compromised by these narratives of racial difference. I think the great evil of slavery was involuntary servitude. It was this idea that black people aren’t as good as white people. And that continues after the 13th Amendment. That’s why I’ve argued slavery doesn’t end, it just evolves, and we had 100 years of terrorism and lynching and violence where black people were pulled out of their homes and beaten and murdered and drowned and tortured and lynched. And we’ve never really talked about that. And even though we pay more attention to the civil rights era, we haven’t confronted the fact that this presumption of dangerousness and guilt that gets assigned to black and brown people is still with us. It’s why these police encounters with young black people that end up with lethal violence are so disruptive and so painful.”
“The great gift I have is that I am the great grandson of people who were enslaved and they believed in freedom when it wasn’t rational to. And I’m the grandchild of people who were terrorized by lynching and they believed in a better future, even though that didn’t seem logical. I’m the child of people humiliated by segregation and Jim Crow, and yet they believed I could be anything I want. And it’s that orientation of hopefulness that has sustained me. We say in the film and I say when I give talks, ‘I believe that hopelessness is the enemy of justice.’ If you want to do justice work, you have to be prepared to believe things you haven’t seen. And it’s what continues to define the work I try to do today.”
‘Do people deserve to die for the crimes they’ve committed?’ I think the threshold question is, ‘Do we deserve to kill?’”
This 60 Minutes piece is referenced and recreated in the film, “Just Mercy.” Then correspondent Ed Bradley interviewed Bryan Stevenson and others about Johnny D…Walter McMillian…aired on November 22, 1992.
The True Story Behind “Just Mercy”.
On September 19, 1988, Judge Robert E. Lee Key, Jr., the first presiding judge (Yes, his real name) overruled the jury’s recommendation of a life sentence and imposed the death penalty.
Bryan Stevenson and Walter McMillian remained friends until Walter’s death in 2013. He died after he developed dementia believed to have been brought on by the trauma of imprisonment. [From Stevenson, Bryan (2014). Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption. New York: Spiegel & Grau. p. 368.].
Rush Drummer Neil Peart died on January 7th at the age of 67.
“Peart’s love of literature and reverence for history deeply informed his songwriting. “Red Sector A,” for example, emerged after he read accounts of World War II concentration camp survivors. “Manhattan Project” addresses the U.S. dropping atomic bombs on Japan in 1945, from multiple viewpoints. For much of Rush’s career, Peart was also dogged by long-ago praise for the author Ayn Rand, whose works were an influence on the sprawling 1976 song cycle 2112. (He later clarified that Rand’s work no longer resonated with him.)
In a 2015 Rolling Stone cover story, Peart self-described as a “bleeding-heart libertarian.”And, above all, his lyrics made people think — Rush fans were liberal, conservative, religious, non-religious — but they all united around their respect for the band and their admiration for how Neil could articulate their experiences, or give them a new way to look at an issue.”
In no small part because of his erudition, Peart’s erudition earned him the nickname “The Professor.” It was apt: Carrying himself with an air of well-spoken authority, he possessed knowledge about a variety of topics, owing to his extensive global travels — on Rush tours, he was known for taking off on bicycle rides and, later, would hop on his motorcycle to travel between gigs — and a voracious curiosity about the world around him. In his 2002 book, Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road, he described going to art museums in the afternoons before Rush concerts “to feed my growing interest in paintings, art history, and African carvings.”
While an interesting travelogue, at its root Ghost Rider was a chronicle of how to repair a shattered self. The book details how Peart embarked on a solo motorcycle trek “to try to figure out what kind of person I was going to be, and what kind of world I was going to live in” after his 19-year-old daughter, Selena, died in a 1997 car crash, and his wife Jackie passed due to cancer the following year.
All told, Peart released seven nonfiction books, several fiction collaborations and poured out thousands more words via his personal website. “What made Neil such a good writer is how much he loved to read,” Halper says. “He really loved and respected books. He loved good literature — he and I sat around one night talking Shakespeare — he loved poetry, he loved philosophy. He valued good conversation. He was a thinker — in the truest sense of the word.”
As any Rush fan will share, air-drumming to 1981’s “Tom Sawyer” can be one of life’s greatest pleasures.
[Excerpt from ‘Remembering Neil Peart, A Monster Drummer With A Poet’s Heart’, by NPR’s Annie Zaleski.]
A favorite quote from Bob Dylan, taken from a 1978 Rolling Stone interview: “The highest purpose of art is to inspire. What else can you do for anyone but inspire them?”
Rush was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.
January 10, 2020
I ran for president to help forge another direction for our country. I wanted to discuss things I felt needed to be discussed that otherwise were not. I feel that we have done that.
I stayed in the race to take advantage of every possible effort to share our message. With caucuses and primaries now about to begin, however, we will not be able to garner enough votes in the election to elevate our conversation any more than it is now. The primaries might be tightly contested among the top contenders, and I don’t want to get in the way of a progressive candidate winning any of them.
As of today, therefore, I’m suspending my campaign.
My deepest gratitude to those of you who supported my candidacy for all these months. The ideas we discussed are important, and I hope they’ll find seed in other ways and in other campaigns. From rescuing underserved, at risk and traumatized children; to proactively waging an agenda for peace and making humanity itself America’s greatest ally; to integrative health models within our health care system and incentivizing health; to reparations to achieve deeper reconciliation between races; to repudiating the corporate aristocracy; to the creation of a more mindful politics; to changing from an economic to a humanitarian bottom line; to initiating a season of moral repair—we brought issues to the fore that I hope contributed to the campaign season. I remain as committed to them going forward as I was on the day we began.
I learned many things about America during this campaign. I’m more convinced than ever that we’re a good and decent people, that democracy matters, and that what our country has always stood for is worth struggling for. I will continue in that struggle, and I know that you will too.
To our dedicated volunteers, generous contributors, and loyal staff who worked so hard—I will hold you in my heart forever. There are no words for how grateful I am for your kindness and generosity. May you be blessed on your journeys as you have so blessed mine.
To the remaining Democratic candidates, I wish you all my best on the road ahead. It was an honor being among you. Whichever one of you wins the nomination, I will be there with all my energy and in full support.
Finally, these are not times to despair; they are simply times to rise up. Things are changing swiftly and dramatically in this country, and I have faith that something is awakening among us. A politics of conscience is still yet possible. And yes….love willprevail.
With all my heart I thank you,
“My life … runs back through time and space to the very beginnings of the world and to its utmost limits. In my being I sum up the earthly inheritance and the state of the world at this moment.”
Maria Popova: Perhaps our most acute awareness of the lacuna between the one life we do have and all the lives we could have had comes in the grips of our fear of missing out — those sudden and disorienting illuminations in which we recognize that parallel possibilities exists alongside our present choices. “Our lived lives might become a protracted mourning for, or an endless tantrum about, the lives we were unable to live,” wrote the psychoanalyst Adam Phillips in his elegant case for the value of our unlived lives. “But the exemptions we suffer, whether forced or chosen, make us who we are.”
The garland of those exemptions strews our sense of self — our constellating experience of personal identity which, as the poet and philosopher John O’Donohue so incisively observed,”is not merely an empirical process of appropriating or digesting blocks of life.”
No one has captured that ultimate existential awareness more beautifully, nor with greater nuance, than the trailblazing French existentialist philosopher and feminist Simone de Beauvoir (January 9, 1908–April 14, 1986)
The penetration of that particular ovum by that particular spermatozoon, with its implications of the meeting of my parents and before that of their birth and the births of all their forebears, had not one chance in hundreds of millions of coming about. And it was chance, a chance quite unpredictable in the present state of science, that caused me to be born a woman. From that point on, it seems to me that a thousand different futures might have stemmed from every single movement of my past: I might have fallen ill and broken off my studies; I might not have met Sartre; anything at all might have happened.
Tossed into the world, I have been subjected to its laws and its contingencies, ruled by wills other than my own, by circumstance and by history: it is therefore reasonable for me to feel that I am myself contingent. What staggers me is that at the same time I am not contingent.
If I had not been born no question would have arisen: I have to take the fact that I do exist as my starting point.
To be sure, the future of the woman I have been may turn me into someone other than myself. But in that case it would be this other woman who would be asking herself who she was. For the person who says “Here am I” there is no other coexisting possibility. Yet this necessary coincidence of the subject and his history is not enough to do away with my perplexity. My life: it is both intimately known and remote; it defines me and yet I stand outside it.
Chance … has a distinct meaning for me. I do not know where I might have been led by the paths that, as I look back, I think I might have taken but that in fact I did not take. What is certain is that I am satisfied with my fate and that I should not want it changed in any way at all. So I look upon these factors that helped me to fulfill it as so many fortunate strokes of chance.
‘Just’ About Perfect
‘While the US isn’t planning “military action”, they will impose more sanctions on Iran, which, in reality, IS an act of war that affects the most vulnerable, denying them access to food and medicine. This is far from over.’
Let’s make the 2020s the decade we took it all back.
There’s something more powerful than laws and policies: us.
The culture, values and beliefs of people.
And while we were trying to change policies, anger and fear and Facebook and the Kremlin have been changing people.
We can start by following 4 principles that have been strongly supported by Avaaz members.
PRINCIPLES FOR 2020
“Triggers” quickly move us to anger and fear – they steal our best and offer our worst. We all trigger all the time, but if we own our triggers as our own: “that’s my insecurity about x” then we can stop blaming others, stop being trolly, and start acting from love and wisdom.
2. Listen for wisdom
When we’re not triggered, we can listen deeply to the perspectives of others, as well as to ourselves – to the emotions of our heart, the reason of our heads, and the intuition of our gut – and we can listen for that quiet voice within that harmonizes all of these things, and suggests wisdom to us.
3. Be kind AND strong
Kindness without strength can be cowardice. And strength without kindness can be brutal. We need both love and strength, ‘Yin’ and ‘Yang’, to successfully protect the things we hold precious and in common.
4. Stop the Gossip, seek the truth
Fake news, half-truths, smears, and disinformation motivated by emotion and agenda bring out the worst in all of us. People are fundamentally decent, but we are quick to embrace simple demonizations that justify the worst we do to each other. Let’s strive to see the human not the villain, and understand the often complex truth.
Can new bus lines chart a course to better travel options in the West?
A European bus company is expanding options for regional travel. High-speed rail could be next.
FlixBus, a European company founded in Germany in 2013, first launched routes in California, Nevada and Arizona in 2018 and has since expanded to Utah, Washington, a sliver of Idaho and Oregon. They’ve entered an increasingly popular industry for city-to-city transport, with competitors like BoltBus, Megabus and the upscale Cabin bus, an overnight sleeper connecting San Francisco and Los Angeles. All of these brands have emerged in the last decade as alternatives to Greyhound, the only nationwide bus service.
To differentiate itself in a growing field, FlixBus targets passengers looking for perks like reliable Wi-Fi and charging outlets. The company also tries to meet younger riders where they are, like on the campus of Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington. On a chilly December day with low clouds and foggy breath lingering in the air, two CWU students caught the bus heading to Seattle. “It’s way easier to access a bus that comes to your campus,” said Leilani Salu, who was riding FlixBus for the first time. “And even when you get dropped off in places like Seattle, it’s convenient because it’s right next to the light rail.” A driver who worked the Thanksgiving holiday weekend said the buses were packed with students.
In general, Millennials and the now coming-of-age members of Generation Z are more attracted to lifestyles that don’t rely on cars. A 2014 study by the Public Interest Research Group, for example, found that Millennials are less likely to drive and more likely to either use public transit or bike than generations before them were as young adults.
As concerns grow over the environmental impacts of travel, policy solutions could favor bus companies. While figures shift based on capacity, when buses are full they are the most carbon-efficient form of long distance travel in the United States, according to Joseph Schwieterman, the director of DePaul University’s Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development and an expert on regional transportation. And that could become a big deal as Western states develop plans to rein in and possibly tax carbon emissions. “The single biggest policy to jump-start bus travel would be a fee on carbon use,” he said.