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.
What do worldviews, ideas about human nature and the Scientific Revolution have to do with today's environmental and social crises? Everything, says Jeremy Lent, author of the groundbreaking new book, The Patterning Instinct: A Cultural History of Humanity's Search for Meaning. He reveals how our future will depend on what happens, not just in the streets, but in our minds.
What would Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. think of the changes in the US over the past five decades? Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson recently declared that poverty is mostly a state of mind. The Congressional Budget Office also noted recently that the American Health Care Act of 2017 would leave more Americans uninsured and cut critical programs to the poor. Fifty years since the publication of possibly his most prophetic and least celebrated book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community, King highlighted the merits and challenges of Black Power, outlined the history of racism, advocated for a guaranteed income and declared he was a Democratic Socialist.
Explaining to students and colleagues the implications of Trump's rise to power has deferred the temporary unplugging of a semester's end and replaced it, for many, with renewed political mission. Since January 2017, tens of thousands of students and faculty nationwide have moved from "Wait, what the heck just happened?" to "Resist, resist, resist." From pro-immigrant student-faculty movements at the Universities of Southern California, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Harvard to a California Polytechnic junior's "50 percent towards charity, 100 percent against tyranny" anti-Trump lipstick, this semester's grassroots have a 1960s feel.
The net neutrality Federal Communications Commission vote follows an equally unpopular vote by congress allowing internet service providers to sell your browsing history. These decisions that few citizens seem to support demonstrate the notion that policy does not reflect the "will of the people." If we want better policy, we need schools that teach citizens how to engage in policy and government that supports public deliberation. At Northwestern University, where I research educational technology for civic education, I've had many conversations with students distraught by the presidential election.
Even as President Donald Trump continues his first-ever foreign trip to the Middle East and Europe, nations across the globe are awaiting his delayed decision on whether or not the US will withdraw from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change that is signed by 196 countries. His choice for inclusion or withdrawal will impact billions of people around the world -- especially those in the most economically vulnerable countries. Trump recently said he will wait until after the G7 Summit in Italy later this month to announce his decision.
Long before Donald Trump's 2015 presidential announcement speech, in which he castigated and disparaged Mexican and Middle Eastern immigrants, the United States already had the disgraceful distinction of maintaining the largest immigration detention system in the world. To make matters worse, a considerable number of the detention prisons are run on a for-profit basis by private prison companies.
For decades now, Congress has failed to find a way forward on immigration reform. All sides seem to agree that we have a problem, but to date, no headway has been made. Why? While our leaders continue to posture and bicker, millions of families have been torn apart by our government's detention prison and deportation system. With the ascendancy of a corporate businessman as president, things have only gotten worse.
President Donald Trump, in a move that has surprised many, has chosen to delay a crucial climate-based decision until after the G7 summit at the end of May. During his presidential campaign, Trump made repeated promises to either remove the US from, or renegotiate the US's position within the Paris Climate Accord. That he now appears unwilling to commit himself either way on this promise may indicate differences of opinion, and climate-based uncertainty within a previously anti-green administration.
In the midst of escalating hostility toward non-Christians, there are signs of Jews and Muslims forging alliances. Jewish advocates for religious inclusion made their presence felt at the airport protests against the Muslim ban, while the bipartisan Muslim Jewish Advisory Council is lobbying lawmakers to condemn hate crimes against religious minorities. Louder Than Words, an artist-activist collective focused on combating domestic violence and sexual assault, exemplifies this upsurge of Jewish-Muslim collaboration.
We all want our top investigative bodies to be headed by competent officials. We also all want to ensure that these officials can freely investigate other branches of the government -- including the presidential administration -- without fear of retribution. How can we tell whether Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey was meant to ensure competent leadership of the agency, as Trump claims, or to prevent Comey from digging deeper into Trump's potential connections with Russia, as many Democrats claim?