Friday, 31 October 2014 / TRUTH-OUT.ORG

Speakout

SpeakOut is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. SpeakOut articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.

Jan 28

Creating a Culture of Peace

By Len Ellis, SpeakOut | Opinion

We live in a culture of violence.  Violence is so prevalent, like the proverbial fish in the sea, we aren't even aware that it surrounds us, conditions us.  We are so accustomed to violence that we mistakenly believe it is a natural state of being.  Being submerged in violence has dulled and numbed our sensitivity to our own humanity; our concept of what it means to be human has been impaired.  And like any other belief, until it is challenged, until we become aware to another way of being, until we awaken to what is our natural loving, nonviolent state, it continues.

Haiti faces a little-publicized hunger crisis at today's 3-year anniversary of the devastating Earthquake of January 12, 2010. The rhetoric about revitalizing Haitian agriculture by aid groups and governments has not translated into effective support on the ground. International groups partnering directly with family farmer organizations across Haiti are warning of a worsening hunger situation. Most urgently, there is a need for resources to be provided to rural organizations so that they can again purchase and distribute locally-available seeds for planting to those who used up their planting seed during repeated crop failures in 2012.

If you watched the news you probably think that Hostess was bankrupted by greedy union workers. That's incredibly far from the truth. And it's all detailed in an article and short movie by former Hostess employee Mike Hummel. 

As a journalist and political activist I've often wondered which secret government databases might include my name. I am certainly not a secessionist or a political extremist (although I was once accused of being a "big government liberal"), but like many of my independent and alternative media colleagues, I sometimes worry that the stories I choose to cover or my outspoken editorials might be interpreted by the wrong people as "anti-government" in nature.

I am, of course, not opposed to my own government since I believe that, as per the preamble to the US Constitution, "We The People" are the government! This has been the basis of my activism and journalism throughout my entire life.

...I looked at the future as a path of infinite possibilities, and I felt big feelings, thought big thoughts, and dreamed big dreams. Blessed with an endless imagination, I daydreamed about all that I could be when I grew up— a marine biologist, or an architect, or an orthopedic surgeon, or the first professional female ice hockey player. I was given space to bumble about in my childhood, making mistakes and learning along the way. Even in my most painful moments, later on, when I was desperately uncomfortable in my skin, confused about my identity, and feeling isolated from family and friends, I intuitively knew that I belonged in the world, and to the world. I didn't know it in my mind— indeed, as I reached puberty, my thoughts often made me feel more alone— but I felt it in my heart, and it emanated from me, driving me forward with clumsy, awkward childhood determination. You see, until the age of fourteen, I had a right to all of these things: to feel my human spirit, to own my body, my emotions, and my mind. To own the right to define myself.

As we come upon both the day commemorating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and with Black History Month just around the corner, I imagine (hopefully) that many of us will be reflecting on our history, progress, and shared collective responsibility in the midst of many ongoing injustices. The difficulty of celebrating civil rights achievements lies in the fact that we are simultaneously reminded of how far we must go to improve the conditions all marginalized people in this country. In this moment, many of us might feel overwhelmed. Sometimes it may seem as if we can do little to fight the chronic disease of disparity afflicting this country. And as we listen to speakers, watch documentaries, and read articles, the inevitable question will arise—but what can I do?

A $61 million dollar, eight-year World Bank community development project implemented across half of Haiti has successfully repaired roads, built schools and distributed livestock.

But is also helped undermine an already weak state, damaged Haiti’s social fabric, carried out what could be called “social and political reengineering,” and raised questions of waste and corruption and contributed to Haiti’s growing status as an “NGO Republic” by creating new non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Read the three-part series

Teachers across America show up to their classrooms every morning to make a difference in the lives of millions of children. Despite amazing challenges, they remain committed to realizing positive impact tapping into their students' learning potential, guiding them to explore, to dream, and to reach their goals of becoming doctors, scientists, and even teachers. According to a study conducted by the Center for Teaching Quality on Teachers' Workdays, educators spend on average 12 hours daily to ensure adequate time for lesson planning, instruction, after school tutoring, checking papers, parent outreach, and staff meetings. Coupled with their individual family commitments, this leaves little time or interest for being directly engaged in understanding the constant changes on America's educational landscape.

Jan 24

Sticking to their Glocks

By Danny Katch, Socialist Worker | Op-Ed

ANYBODY STILL hoping for a sensitive and serious national debate in the wake of the Newtown elementary school shootings probably hasn't heard that January 19 is Gun Appreciation Day.

Is it just me, or does it seem early this year? I've barely recovered from New Year's, and it's already time for making homemade, hollow-tipped ammo and gathering around the family firearm for carols (my personal favorite is "There's Nothing Semi-Automatic About Our Love").

Actually, Gun Appreciation Day is a right-wing media stunt to protest the new momentum for gun control laws that has followed Adam Lanza's massacre in Newtown with a semiautomatic Bushmaster XM-15 rifle.

Jan 24

The "All of the Above" President

By Zachary Norris, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

In the wake of the Newtown tragedy, President Obama called on Vice President Biden to come up with a 'comprehensive' plan to address gun violence and school safety. Putting aside the gun control recommendations as that would require a separate rant, the school safety portion of the plan mirrors other 'comprehensive' plans supported by the president. These plans have helped keep the president in office but worked out less well for everyday people.

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Speakout

SpeakOut is Truthout's treasure chest for bloggy, quirky, personally reflective, or especially activism-focused pieces. SpeakOut articles represent the perspectives of their authors, and not those of Truthout.

Jan 28

Creating a Culture of Peace

By Len Ellis, SpeakOut | Opinion

We live in a culture of violence.  Violence is so prevalent, like the proverbial fish in the sea, we aren't even aware that it surrounds us, conditions us.  We are so accustomed to violence that we mistakenly believe it is a natural state of being.  Being submerged in violence has dulled and numbed our sensitivity to our own humanity; our concept of what it means to be human has been impaired.  And like any other belief, until it is challenged, until we become aware to another way of being, until we awaken to what is our natural loving, nonviolent state, it continues.

Haiti faces a little-publicized hunger crisis at today's 3-year anniversary of the devastating Earthquake of January 12, 2010. The rhetoric about revitalizing Haitian agriculture by aid groups and governments has not translated into effective support on the ground. International groups partnering directly with family farmer organizations across Haiti are warning of a worsening hunger situation. Most urgently, there is a need for resources to be provided to rural organizations so that they can again purchase and distribute locally-available seeds for planting to those who used up their planting seed during repeated crop failures in 2012.

If you watched the news you probably think that Hostess was bankrupted by greedy union workers. That's incredibly far from the truth. And it's all detailed in an article and short movie by former Hostess employee Mike Hummel. 

As a journalist and political activist I've often wondered which secret government databases might include my name. I am certainly not a secessionist or a political extremist (although I was once accused of being a "big government liberal"), but like many of my independent and alternative media colleagues, I sometimes worry that the stories I choose to cover or my outspoken editorials might be interpreted by the wrong people as "anti-government" in nature.

I am, of course, not opposed to my own government since I believe that, as per the preamble to the US Constitution, "We The People" are the government! This has been the basis of my activism and journalism throughout my entire life.

...I looked at the future as a path of infinite possibilities, and I felt big feelings, thought big thoughts, and dreamed big dreams. Blessed with an endless imagination, I daydreamed about all that I could be when I grew up— a marine biologist, or an architect, or an orthopedic surgeon, or the first professional female ice hockey player. I was given space to bumble about in my childhood, making mistakes and learning along the way. Even in my most painful moments, later on, when I was desperately uncomfortable in my skin, confused about my identity, and feeling isolated from family and friends, I intuitively knew that I belonged in the world, and to the world. I didn't know it in my mind— indeed, as I reached puberty, my thoughts often made me feel more alone— but I felt it in my heart, and it emanated from me, driving me forward with clumsy, awkward childhood determination. You see, until the age of fourteen, I had a right to all of these things: to feel my human spirit, to own my body, my emotions, and my mind. To own the right to define myself.

As we come upon both the day commemorating the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and with Black History Month just around the corner, I imagine (hopefully) that many of us will be reflecting on our history, progress, and shared collective responsibility in the midst of many ongoing injustices. The difficulty of celebrating civil rights achievements lies in the fact that we are simultaneously reminded of how far we must go to improve the conditions all marginalized people in this country. In this moment, many of us might feel overwhelmed. Sometimes it may seem as if we can do little to fight the chronic disease of disparity afflicting this country. And as we listen to speakers, watch documentaries, and read articles, the inevitable question will arise—but what can I do?

A $61 million dollar, eight-year World Bank community development project implemented across half of Haiti has successfully repaired roads, built schools and distributed livestock.

But is also helped undermine an already weak state, damaged Haiti’s social fabric, carried out what could be called “social and political reengineering,” and raised questions of waste and corruption and contributed to Haiti’s growing status as an “NGO Republic” by creating new non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

Read the three-part series

Teachers across America show up to their classrooms every morning to make a difference in the lives of millions of children. Despite amazing challenges, they remain committed to realizing positive impact tapping into their students' learning potential, guiding them to explore, to dream, and to reach their goals of becoming doctors, scientists, and even teachers. According to a study conducted by the Center for Teaching Quality on Teachers' Workdays, educators spend on average 12 hours daily to ensure adequate time for lesson planning, instruction, after school tutoring, checking papers, parent outreach, and staff meetings. Coupled with their individual family commitments, this leaves little time or interest for being directly engaged in understanding the constant changes on America's educational landscape.

Jan 24

Sticking to their Glocks

By Danny Katch, Socialist Worker | Op-Ed

ANYBODY STILL hoping for a sensitive and serious national debate in the wake of the Newtown elementary school shootings probably hasn't heard that January 19 is Gun Appreciation Day.

Is it just me, or does it seem early this year? I've barely recovered from New Year's, and it's already time for making homemade, hollow-tipped ammo and gathering around the family firearm for carols (my personal favorite is "There's Nothing Semi-Automatic About Our Love").

Actually, Gun Appreciation Day is a right-wing media stunt to protest the new momentum for gun control laws that has followed Adam Lanza's massacre in Newtown with a semiautomatic Bushmaster XM-15 rifle.

Jan 24

The "All of the Above" President

By Zachary Norris, SpeakOut | Op-Ed

In the wake of the Newtown tragedy, President Obama called on Vice President Biden to come up with a 'comprehensive' plan to address gun violence and school safety. Putting aside the gun control recommendations as that would require a separate rant, the school safety portion of the plan mirrors other 'comprehensive' plans supported by the president. These plans have helped keep the president in office but worked out less well for everyday people.