[Artwork by Jim Carrey]
The history of our own time has been made by dictators whose characters, often transparently easy to read, have been full of repressed guilt, self-hatred, and feelings of inferiority. They have managed to enlist the support of solid masses men moved by the same repressed drives as themselves. The wars they have waged with one another have been the sacrifice which the cases, degraded by totalitarianism, have offered up in fanatical self-idolatry, which never completely manages to assuage the nausea brought about by the self-hatred.
-Thomas Merton, The Living Bread 
The whole mechanism of modern life is geared for a flight from God and from the spirit into the wilderness of neurosis.
-Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island 
The 23 most unforgettable last sentences in fiction.
Ron Charles, for the Washington Post
“The Bernards and Abelards of our time will be, perhaps, not people but machines: great, brilliant, temperamental computers. One of these days the most brilliant computer will take offense. Then watch!”
-Thomas Merton, 1953
Overheard at the World Economic Forum in Davos:
“The speed of advanced technologies, in particular artificial intelligence and automation, is already making the transition more disruptive than prior epochal shifts — and may prolong it. Shifts rivaling “modern social, political and economic transformations, such as the post-Gilded Age of the early 1900s, the global Great Depression of the 1930s, and the Reagan-Thatcher revolution of the 1980s.”
“Three-quarters of people living in developed countries feel they are not getting a fair shake, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer.
Real pay for all but the richest people has been almost flat for at least three decades. And when Americans have lost a job, nearly half have moved to a lower-paying one, jeopardizing their place in the middle class.”
As a hedge fund CEO described the zeitgeist: “We need to get in front of this problem or it’s going to get in front of us.”
St. Bernard represented the settled, orthodox, traditional teaching of the Church, which was an impregnable fortress for him, while Abelard was the very embodiment of a bold, outspoken, albeit exceedingly plausible, rationalistic spirit. Indeed he is called by the distinguished French writer, Cousin, “the father of modern rationalism.”
“Underlying most of the protests were old grievances that took on new forms and a new urgency. There was a widespread feeling that something is working with our economic system, and the political as well, because rather than correcting our economic system, it reinforced the failures. The gap between what our economic and political system is supposed to do–what we were told that it did do–and what it actually does became too large too be ignored…Universal vales of freedom and fairness had been scarified to the greed of the few.”
2012, Nobel Laureate Economist Joseph Stiglitz
Introduction: The World Wakes,” in Anya Schiffrin and Eamon Kircher-Allen, eds., From Cairo to Wall Street: Voices from the Global Spring (New York: The New Press, 2012), 2.
Follow-up, 24 minute update with Dale Ho, head of the ACLU Voting Rights Project, running litigation against the Commerce Department and DT administration about adding a citizenship question that Wilbur Ross of the Commerce Dept…the “let them eat cake guy”…for, well, basically, a distribution of political power that would benefit Republicans. It was determined that Ross lied to congress about motivations for adding the citizenship question. A very big deal. And it isn’t over, because DT has “5 friends” who sit on the Supreme Court (Republicans), and those “5 friends” are very interested in this case.
6.5 million people, it has been determined, would not answer the question. And that’s a very big deal.
“One guy, he had nothing to do with the movies, but I’ve taken a lot of direction from him. That’s Bucky Fuller. Bucky, he’s most famous for the geodesic dome, but he made a great observation about these oceangoing tankers. And he noticed that the engineers were particularly challenged by how to turn this thing, you know? They got this big rudder, it took too much energy to turn the rudder to turn the ship. So they came up with a brilliant idea. Let’s put a little rudder on the big rudder. The little rudder will turn the big rudder, the big rudder will turn the ship. The little rudder is called a trim tab.
Bucky made the analogy that a trim tab is an example of how the individual is connected to society, and how we affect society. And I like to think of myself as a trim tab. All of us are trim tabs. We might seem like we’re not up to the task, but we are, man. We’re alive! We can make a difference! We can turn this ship in the way we wanna go, man! Towards love, creating a healthy planet for all of us.”
-Jeff Bridges, accepting his lifetime achievement award at the Golden Globes.
“It’s often he small acts of ordinary people that
define the American identity.”
We are excited to announce that the United Shades of America episode we worked on with W. Kamau Bell just won an Emmy! It is the first cable episode on Sikhs in America — the first time the nation has seen Sikhs tell our own stories, in our own voices, for an hour on television. And now it has received the highest honor in the industry!
Let this win be a little beacon of light.
Today, as we mark seventeen years since 9/11, we believe that the best way to honor the thousands who died on this day and in its aftermath is to hear the STORIES that help us reckon with the past. The most brutal policies and rhetoric that drive hate in America today were first forged in the wake of 9/11. Our stories help us understand how to stand in solidarity with Muslims, Sikhs, and immigrants — and how to birth a new future.
So on this anniversary, we invite you to hear a story you have never heard before.
Watch the Emmy-award winning “Sikhs in America” on DIRECTV here. Then scroll down for a list of films, books, and toolkits that help us understand 9/11 and hate in America today. Some we produced, others we curated, all center Sikh American stories the nation needs to hear. Starting with this episode of United Shades:
Our award-winning film Divided We Fall explores hate, bigotry, and belonging in America in the aftermath of 9/11. For the last decade, the film has been used on 300+ campuses to spark dialogue and reflection. It is now available online for free and comes with up-to-date teacher´s guides and dialogues questions to use in your classroom, house of worship, or even your living room.
meditation for healing
‘One of the most painful barriers we can experience is the sense of isolation the modern world fosters, which can only be broken by our willingness to be held, by the quiet courage to allow our vulnerabilities to be seen. For as water fills a hole and as light fills the dark, kindness wraps around what is soft, if what is soft can be seen.
Prayers without words that friends, strangers, wind, and time all wrap themselves around.’
No one ever died saying, I’m so glad for the self-centered, self-serving, and self-protective life I lived.” Offer yourself to the world–your energies your gifts, your visions, your spirit–with open-hearted generosity.
“Life has set the stamp of individuality on your soul. You are different from any other person who ever lived. You are an individualized center in the Consciousness of God. You are an individualized activity in the Action of God. You are you, and you are eternal. Begin to live today as the immortal being you are and all thought of death, all fear of change will slip from you. You will step out of the tomb of uncertainty into the light of eternal day.”
We are here to live out loud. -Emile Zola
“Imagine if birds only sang when heard. If musicians only played when approved of. If poets only spoke when understood.”
“Remove your human hesitation. As you inhale, feel what rises in you. At the top of your breath, blink the mind shut like an eye. As you exhale, let the feeling sound from you, no matter how softly.
‘Is unpreventable; the natural outcome of caring for people and things over which we have no control, of holding in our affections those who inevitably move beyond our line of sight.
Realizing its inescapable nature, we can see heartbreak not as the end of the road or the cessation of hope but as the close embrace of the essence of what we have wanted or about to lose.
It is the hidden DNA of our relationship with life, outlining outer forms even when we do not feel it by intimate physical experience generated by its absence; it can also ground us truly in whatever grief we are experiencing, set us to planting a seed with what we have left or appreciate what we have built even as we stand in its ruin.’
-David Whyte, Consolations/The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words
7 activist groups supporting families at the border that need our help right now.
[by Nicole Gallucci, Mashable]
3. Young Center For Immigrant Children’s Rights
4. Border Angels
5. Kids In Need of Defense
6. Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project
7. Donate via ActBlue
Climate change, our changing climate, is not a political ideology. It is reality. The Sun Valley Forum created and organized by the Sun Valley Institute focused on risk and opportunity for our new reality over three days this past week. Continue to check this space for synthesis, integration, and action.
“The global food system is the number one water consumer, is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, and threatens coastal ecosystems with nutrient-loads from fertilizers. At the same time, the food system faces major risks from drought, soil loss, and heat. A regenerative, climate-smart food system has the potential to sequester carbon, reduce water consumption and pollution, increase the nutrients in our food, and make it more resilient to heat and drought. Across consumer engagement, investment, and market development, we are sharing the innovative technologies,strategies, and good solutions being implemented local and globally.”
Victor Friedberg, Co-found S2G and Founder, Good Shot Global
Alex Mackay, Director of Business Development & Investor Relations, Iroquois Valley Farms
To feed 10 billion people by 2050: http://www.foodshot.org
Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT is a restorative farmland finance company providing land access to organic family farmers, with a focus on the next generation. Starting in 2007 (through Iroquois Valley Farms LLC) and establishing itself as a leader in socially responsible investing before “SRI” and “Impact Investing” were common vernacular, the Company has a long track record of successfully acquiring organic and transitional farmland. In 2016, the Company expanded its scope to include first mortgage financing.
The Company raises private capital from accredited investor sources including IRA’s, family offices, financial advisors, foundations, and socially responsible investment-related funds. Investors are broadly based and encompass over 40 states and countries. These investments facilitate farmers’ expansion plans through leasing or mortgage financing. Iroquois Valley Farmland REIT was established as a Public Benefit Corporation, whose public benefit is enabling healthy food production, soil restoration and water quality improvement through the establishment of secure and sustainable farmland access tenures.
“We built our business to support the businesses of our farmers.” David Miller, Co-Founder and CEO
“Organic family farmers with land access.”
Which Vision of farming is better for the planet?
by Paul Chisholm
Matt Distler is an ecologist with Oxbow Farm & Conservation Center, which sits on a 243-acre mosaic of organic farmland, wetland, and forest east of Seattle. Distler’s job is to balance food production against environmental concerns.
For Distler, the results are interesting, but they might not change the way they do things at Oxbow. That’s because their decisions are based on a lot of different environmental considerations, and carbon storage is only one of them.
“Certainly, the question of carbon is in the back of our minds,” says Distler. “But we’re focused a bit more on the conservation of biodiversity.”
American Farmland Trust (AFT) began in 1980 after a small group of farmers and conservationists asked an important question: What will happen to the nation’s food supply if we continue to wastefully develop our best farm and ranch land?
In Texas — the heart of Trump country — the city of Georgetown runs on 100% renewable energy. Republican Mayor Dale Ross told Axios that the decision was “a no-brainer economically.”
“If you win the economic argument you’re going to win the environmental argument.”
Why it matters: President Trump and many Republican leaders are rolling back environmental measures related to climate change. But in Georgetown, “We put these silly national partisan politics aside,” said Ross. Climate change is one of the most divisive political topics, but cities like Georgetown are finding that renewable energy sources like hydropower, wind and solar may provide more financial stability than fossil fuels.” -Republican Mayor Dale Ross
“Just remember, what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”
“The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”
-George Orwell, ‘1984’
Connecting Inner and Outer Worlds
Go down to the palace of the king and declare, “Do what is just and right. Rescue from the hand of the oppressor the one who has been robbed. Do no wrong or violence to the foreigner, the orphan, or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.” —Jeremiah 22:1, 3
The primary role of religion and spirituality is to reconnect, the very meaning of the Latin word religio. The Greek word polis—which led to the word politics—simply means city or public forum, where people come together. Why have religion and politics become so antagonistic when they have similar goals?
The Hebrew prophets and Jesus clearly modeled engagement with both faith and the public forum. However, unlike its Jewish forbears, in its first two thousand years Christianity has kept its morality mostly private, personal, and heaven-bound with very few direct implications for our collective economic, social, or political life. Politics and religion remained in two different realms, unless religion was uniting with empires. Christianity looked to Rome and Constantinople for imperial protection; little did we realize the price we would eventually pay for such a compromise with Gospel values.
“Separation of church and state” is important to safeguard freedom of religion and ensure that governments are not dominated by a single religion’s interests. But that does not mean people of faith should not participate in politics. Today many believe that “inner work” is the purview of spirituality and that we should leave the “outer world” to politicians, scientists, businesses, and workers. Most of the negative feedback I receive is “Don’t get political!”
Yet how can I read the Bible and stay out of politics? Again and again (approximately 2,000 times!) Scripture calls for justice for the poor. The Gospel is rather “socialist” in its emphasis on sharing resources and caring for those in need.
Like it or not, politics (civic engagement) is one of our primary means of addressing poverty and other justice issues. I am not talking about partisan politics here, but simply connecting the inner world with the outer world. As a result of our dualistic thinking, the word “partisan” has come to be synonymous with the word “political.” And so many church-goers do not want to hear the Gospel preached—as it might sound political!
To be a faith leader is to connect the inner and outer worlds. In the United States’ not-so-distant-past, Christians were at the forefront of political and justice movements to abolish slavery, support women’s suffrage, protect civil rights, and establish and maintain Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. Today I am encouraged to see many of my Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist brothers and sisters actively engaged with the political realm, speaking truth to power, and holding our political leaders accountable. Being political is a basic civic, human, and spiritual duty!
‘An elite network of white dudes changing the world.’ -Samantha Bee
Ian Millhiser, a legal policy analyst at the progressive Center for American Progress: noted. The movement simply continues to build up new talent in the off-years.
“What the Federalist Society does really well, is it identifies that really really right-wing kid at Harvard Law School who is legitimately talented and who will do horrible things to the law but will do it very competently because they’re a very talented lawyer,” added Millhiser. “And they identify those people, and from the beginning of their career, give them opportunities, help them find those clerkships, help them network.”
The Federalist Society is one of the most powerful and unique organizations in the conservative orbit, describing itself as “a group of conservatives and libertarians interested in the current state of the legal order.”
Throughout its history, the group, founded in 1982 at Yale Law School, has prided itself on not explicitly taking policy positions on issues but rather creating the conditions in which conservative legal ideas can be debated and thrive. This year, the conference takes place in an environment that is perhaps more amenable to these ideas than at any time in recent years.
[The Federalist SocietyBy Amanda Terkel, HuffPost, 2011]
The Federalist Society will soon have a 5–4 stranglehold on the Supreme Court.
[Slate, Lawrence Baum & Neal Devins]
In appointing a Federalist justice, DT will be sealing a deal between Republican presidents and the conservative legal movement. In effect, that deal began in 1985. Under the leadership of Attorney General Edwin Meese, the Department of Justice in Ronald Reagan’s second term sought aggressively to advance conservative goals in the judiciary. By hiring staffers on the basis of ideological commitment, Meese sought to groom young conservative lawyers who would later become federal court judges. The Federalist Society—established as a law student group in 1982—was an important component of this strategy; it enabled Meese and others in the administration to identify promising candidates for significant government posts. Meese hired the society’s founders as special assistants and tapped Stephen Markman, who headed the Washington chapter of the Federalist Society, to become the assistant attorney general in charge of judicial selection.
Unlike DT’s finalists, Kennedy was not associated with the Federalist Society or the conservative legal movement. His voting record bears this out. Kennedy took moderate to liberal positions on some highly visible issues. He voted to reaffirm Roe v. Wade in 1992 and ruled against Texas’ stringent abortion regulations in 2016.
With the appointment of a new justice, the Republican majority on the court will be composed of justices who have risen through the ranks of the conservative legal movement and who are committed to the ideals of that movement. It will truly be the Federalist Society’s court.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is a Federalist Society member.
How Mister Rogers, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Identical Triplets Became Box Office Stars
- “This summer has been especially rewarding for documentaries. ‘Three Identical Strangers’ comes on the heels of a pair of sleeper hits, ‘RBG’ and ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor.'”
- “It’s a rare summer where one documentary has already crossed the $10 million mark and a second non-fiction film is close behind. It’s even possible ‘Three Identical Strangers’ could complete the trifecta.”
- Why it matters: “In a news cycle that seems to be perpetually depressing, all signs point to escapism in explaining the box office surge. These films focus on a different kind of counterprogramming, one where hope, sincerity, and reassurance are at the forefront.
And I dreamed I was dying
And I dreamed that my soul rose unexpectedly
And looking back down at me
And I dreamed I was flying
And high up above my eyes could clearly see
The Statue of Liberty
Sailing away to sea
And I dreamed I was flying
We come on the ship they call the Mayflower
We come on the ship that sailed the moon
We come in the age’s most uncertain hour
and sing an American tune
But it’s all right, it’s all right
You can’t be forever blessed
Still, tomorrow’s going to be another working day
And I’m trying to get some rest
That’s all I’m trying to get some rest.