Saturday, April 30, 2016

Father Daniel Berrigan, Anti-War Activist & Poet, Dies at 94

The legendary anti-war priest Father Daniel Berrigan died today at 94. He was a poet, pacifist, educator, social activist, playwright and lifelong resister to what he called "American military imperialism." Along with his late brother, Phil, Dan Berrigan played an instrumental role in inspiring the anti-war and anti-draft movement during the late 1960s as well as the anti-nuclear movement.

In 1968, Father Daniel Berrigan made headlines when he traveled to North Vietnam with Howard Zinn to bring home three U.S. prisoners of war. Later that year he and eight others took 378 draft files from the draft board in Catonsville, MD. Then in the parking lot of the draft board office, the activists set the draft records on fire using homemade napalm to protest the Vietnam War.

In 1970 Father Berrigan spent four months living underground as a fugitive from theFBI.
In the early 1980s Father Berrigan helped launch the international anti-nuclear Plowshares movement when he and seven others poured blood and hammered on warheads at a GE nuclear missile plant in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.

Georgetown University theology professor Chester Gillis once said of Father Berrigan: "If you were to identify Catholic prophets in the 20th century, he’d be right there with Dorothy Day or Thomas Merton."

For the original article and more, including videos of Father Berrigan in 1968 and on Democracy Now!, please go here:

Some – A Poem by Daniel Berrigan

This is in honor of Father Daniel Berrigan, who
died today at the age of 94. I am experiencing grief and
gratitude for this amazing soul. He will be missed.
Peace ~ Molly 

(to the Plowshares 8, with love)
by Daniel Berrigan
Some stood up once, and sat down.
Some walked a mile, and walked away.
Some stood up twice, then sat down.
“It’s too much,” they cried.
Some walked two miles, then walked away.
“I’ve had it,” they cried,
Some stood and stood and stood.
They were taken for fools,
they were taken for being taken in.
Some walked and walked and walked –
they walked the earth,
they walked the waters,
they walked the air.
“Why do you stand?” they were asked, and
“Why do you walk?”
“Because of the children,” they said, and
“Because of the heart, and
“Because of the bread,”
“Because the cause is
the heart’s beat, and
the children born, and
the risen bread.”

Terry Tempest Williams: The Human Heart Is the First Home of Democracy

The human heart is the first home of democracy. It is where we embrace our questions: Can we be equitable? Can we be generous? Can we listen with our whole beings, not just our minds, and offer our attention rather than our opinion? And do we have enough resolve in our hearts to act courageously, relentlessly, without giving up, trusting our fellow citizens to join us in our determined pursuit-a living democracy?
- Terry Tempest Williams

Bill McKibben: The Movers and Shakers On Our Planet

The movers and shakers on our planet aren't the billionaires 
and generals. They are the incredible numbers of people around the world 
filled with love for neighbor and for the earth who are resisting, 
remaking, restoring, renewing and revitalising.
- Bill McKibben

Jared Diamond: Crucial Choices

Two types of choices seem to me to have been crucial in tipping the outcomes [of the various societies' histories] towards success or failure: long-term planning and willingness to reconsider core values. On reflection we can also recognize the crucial role of these same two choices for the outcomes of our individual lives.

- Jared Diamond

Frans de Waal: What Must We Be?

If we look straight and deep into a chimpanzee's eyes, 
an intelligent self-assured personality looks back at us. 
If they are animals, what must we be?
- Frans de Waal

Friday, April 29, 2016

Jane Goodall: If We Kill Off the Wild

If we kill off the wild, 
then we are killing a part of our souls.
- Jane Goodall 

Jane Goodall: We Have the Choice

Empathy is really important.. Only when our clever brain and our human heart work together in harmony can we achieve our full potential. 
It is these undeniable qualities of human love and compassion and self-sacrifice that give me hope for the future. We are, indeed, often cruel and evil. Nobody can deny this. We gang up on each one another, we torture each other, with words as well as deeds, we fight, we kill. But we are also capable of the most noble, generous, and heroic behavior. 

We could change the world tomorrow if all the millions of people around the world acted the way they believe.

The greatest danger to our future is apathy.

We have the choice to use the gift of our life to make the world a better place--or not to bother.
- Jane Goodall

Fourteen to Go: Sanders Set on 'Transforming Nation'

'The people in every state in this country should have the right to determine who they want as president and what the agenda of the Democratic Party should be.'
Already, declares Jim Hightower, "Sanders' vivid populist vision, unabashed idealism, and big ideas for restoring America to its own people have...proven to the Democratic establishment that they don't have to sell out to big corporate donors to raise the money they need to run for office." (Photo: Bernie Sanders/Facebook)

That's how many Democratic presidential nominating contests remain. From Indiana next week to the District of Columbia on June 14—with delegate prizes as large as 546 in California and small as 12 in Guam to be won in between—14 states and territories have yet to hold their respective caucus or primary.

"That's why we are in this race until the last vote is cast," said Bernie Sanders on Tuesday night, following a win in Rhode Island and losses to rival Hillary Clinton in Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

"The people in every state in this country should have the right to determine who they want as president and what the agenda of the Democratic Party should be," he said.

"That is why this campaign is going to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia with as many delegates as possible," Sanders continued, "to fight for a progressive party platform that calls for a $15 an hour minimum wage, an end to our disastrous trade policies, a Medicare-for-all health care system, breaking up Wall Street financial institutions, ending fracking in our country, making public colleges and universities tuition free, and passing a carbon tax so we can effectively address the planetary crisis of climate change."

He struck a similar tone in West Virginia on Tuesday evening, telling a cheering crowd in Huntington: "This campaign is not just about electing a president, it is about transforming a nation."

To some degree, Sanders' campaign has already done that, argued commentator Jim Hightower in an op-ed on Tuesday.

"Sanders' vivid populist vision, unabashed idealism, and big ideas for restoring America to its own people have jerked the presidential debate out of the hands of status quo corporatists, revitalized the class consciousness and relevance of the Democratic Party, energized millions of young people to get involved, and proven to the Democratic establishment that they don't have to sell out to big corporate donors to raise the money they need to run for office," Hightower wrote.

"Bernie has substantively—even profoundly—changed American politics for the better, which is why he's gaining more and more support and keeps winning delegates," he continued. "From the start, he said: 'This campaign is not about me'— it's a chance for voters who have been disregarded and discarded to forge a new political revolution that will continue to grow beyond this election and create a true people's government."
And Sanders, in some capacity, will be there to help that revolution take shape.

"Democrats should recognize that the ticket with the best chance of winning this November must attract support from independents as well as Democrats. I am proud of my campaign's record in that regard."
—Senator Bernie Sanders
According to USA Today on Wednesday, Sanders strategist Tad Devine "said Monday that Sanders will arrive at the convention with enough pledged delegates to file minority reports—or dissents from the majority—at the event, which could prolong it by requiring debates on the issues most important to him if the campaigns don't negotiate their differences. Democratic Party rules allow for minority reports at the request of 25% of members on the convention's Platform, Credentials and Rules committees."

Among the issues Sanders wants to tackle at the convention, according to Devine, are voter participation, campaign funding, and the controversial system of superdelegates.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Ram Dass: Listen To Your Own Truth

The spiritual journey is individual, highly personal. 
It can't be organized or regulated. It isn't true 
that everyone should follow one path. 
Listen to your own truth.
- Ram Dass

Krishna Das: The Heart Is Like a Mirror

The heart is like a mirror. When we dust it off, we are able 
to see ourselves. The dust is all our stuff - guilt, anger - this stuff 
is reflected back to us. Practice removes the dust 
from the mirror of our hearts.
- Krishna Das

Noam Chomsky: Young Bernie Sanders Supporters are a "Mobilized Force That Could Change the Country"

From Democracy Now!

AMY GOODMAN: Earlier this week, Noam Chomsky spoke at the New York Public Library along with former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, who will join us in a minute in our studio. During the event, Noam Chomsky was asked about Bernie Sanders’ run for the White House.
NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, Bernie Sanders is an extremely interesting phenomenon. He’s a decent, honest person. That’s pretty unusual in the political system. Maybe there are two of them in the world, you know. But he’s considered radical and extremist, which is a pretty interesting characterization, because he’s basically a mainstream New Deal Democrat. His positions would not have surprised President Eisenhower, who said, in fact, that anyone who does not accept New Deal programs doesn’t belong in the American political system. That’s now considered very radical.
The other interesting aspect of Sanders’s positions is that they’re quite strongly supported by the general public, and have been for a long time. That’s true on taxes. It’s true on healthcare. So, take, say, healthcare. His proposal for a national healthcare system, meaning the kind of system that just about every other developed country has, at half the per capita cost of the United States and comparable or better outcomes, that’s considered very radical. But it’s been the position of the majority of the American population for a long time. So, you go back, say, to the Reagan—right now, for example, latest polls, about 60 percent of the population favor it. When Obama put through the Affordable Care Act, there was, you recall, a public option. But that was dropped. It was dropped even though it was supported by about almost two-thirds of the population. You go back earlier, say, to the Reagan years, about 70 percent of the population thought that national healthcare should be in the Constitution, because it’s such an obvious right. And, in fact, about 40 percent of the population thought it was in the Constitution, again, because it’s such an obvious right. The same is true on tax policy and others.
So we have this phenomenon where someone is taking positions that would have been considered pretty mainstream during the Eisenhower years, that are supported by a large part, often a considerable majority, of the population, but he’s dismissed as radical and extremist. That’s an indication of how the spectrum has shifted to the right during the neoliberal period, so far to the right that the contemporary Democrats are pretty much what used to be called moderate Republicans. And the Republicans are just off the spectrum. They’re not a legitimate parliamentary party anymore. And Sanders has—the significant part of—he has pressed the mainstream Democrats a little bit towards the progressive side. You see that in Clinton’s statements. But he has mobilized a large number of young people, these young people who are saying, "Look, we’re not going to consent anymore." And if that turns into a continuing, organized, mobilized—mobilized force, that could change the country—maybe not for this election, but in the longer term.**
Please go here for the full video and more of today's broadcast:


**I heard this on Democracy Now! this morning on KBOO here in Portland. Powerful and right on and so deeply important! Just imagine if American media actually consistently brought us the wise and visionary voices of integrity, truth, larger pictures, and a commitment to bringing us a depth of reporting on the most critical issues of our time and times past. Just imagine how different our nation and the world would be if we Americans were actually exposed to facts and critical thinking and authenticity and depth and true investigative journalism! Just imagine! Instead we NEVER hear voices such as Noam Chomsky on mainstream corporate American media. Gratefully, these voices are out there. We just have to want to look, ... I mean to truly want to look, and look deeply. We have to be that brave and care that much. And then share what we are learning. The world will increasingly change as more and more of us step up and do our part, no matter how large or small, to work toward a sane and caring and just and healing world. We are all in this great awakening together! ~ Molly

Michael Parenti: It Is Only When You Stray

You will have no sensation of a leash around your neck 
if you sit by the peg. It is only when you stray 
that you feel the restraining tug.

- Michael Parenti, from Dirty Truths

Thomas Frank on How Democrats Went From Being the ‘Party of the People’ to the Party of Rich Elites

Bill Clinton's presidency saw the Democrats swing sharply to the right. But Thomas Frank says the party's drift began much earlier. (Sean Rayford / Getty Images)
Democrats have gone from the party of the New Deal to a party that is defending mass inequality.
The Democratic Party was once the party of the New Deal and the ally of organized labor. But by the time of Bill Clinton's presidency, it had become the enemy of New Deal programs like welfare and Social Security and the champion of free trade deals. What explains this apparent reversal? Thomas Frank—best known for his analysis of the Republican Party base in What's the Matter with Kansas?attempts to answer this question in his latest book, Listen Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? 
According to Frank, popular explanations which blame corporate lobby groups and the growing power of money in politics are insufficient. Frank instead points to a decision by Democratic Party elites in the 1970s to marginalize labor unions and transform from the party of the working class to the party of the professional class. In so doing, the Democratic Party radically changed the way it understood social problems and how to solve them, trading in the principle of solidarity for the principle of competitive individualism and meritocracy. The end result is that the party which created the New Deal and helped create the middle class has now become “the party of mass inequality.” In These Times spoke with Frank recently about the book via telephone.
The book is about how the Democratic Party turned its back on working people and now pursues policies that actually increase inequality. What are the policies or ideological commitments in the Democratic Party that make you think this?
The first piece of evidence is what’s happened since the financial crisis. This is the great story of our time. Inequality has actually gotten worse since then, which is a remarkable thing. This is under a Democratic president who we were assured (or warned) was the most liberal or radical president we would ever see.  Yet inequality has gotten worse, and the gains since the financial crisis, since the recovery began, have gone entirely to the top 10 percent of the income distribution.
This is not only because of those evil Republicans, but because Obama played it the way he wanted to. Even when he had a majority in both houses of Congress and could choose whoever he wanted to be in his administration, he consistently made policies that favored the top 10 percent over everybody else. He helped out Wall Street in an enormous way when they were entirely at his mercy.
He could have done anything he wanted with them, in the way that Franklin Roosevelt did in the ‘30s. But he chose not to.
Why is that? This is supposed to be the Democratic Party, the party that’s interested in working people, average Americans. Why would they react to a financial crisis in this way? Once you start digging into this story, it goes very deep. You find that there was a transition in the Democratic Party in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s where they convinced themselves that they needed to abandon working people in order to serve a different constituency: a constituency essentially of white-collar professionals.
That’s the most important group in their coalition. That’s who they won over in the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s. That’s who they serve, and that’s where they draw from. The leaders of the Democratic Party are always from this particular stratum of society.
A lot of progressives that I talk to are pretty familiar with the idea that the Democratic Party is no longer protecting the interests of workers, but it’s pretty common for us to blame it on mainly the power of money in politics. But you start the book in chapter one by arguing there’s actually something much deeper going on. Can you say something about that?
Money in politics is a big part of the story, but social class goes deeper than that. The Democrats have basically made their commitment [to white-collar professionals] already before money and politics became such a big deal. It worked out well for them because of money in politics. So when they chose essentially the top 10 percent of the income distribution as their most important constituents, that is the story of money.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Sharon Salzberg: It Is Never Too Late

It is never too late to turn on the light. Your ability to break an unhealthy habit or turn off an old tape doesn't depend on how long it has been running; a shift in perspective doesn't depend on how long you've held on to the old view. When you flip the switch in that attic, it doesn't matter whether its been dark for ten minutes, ten years or ten decades. The light still illuminates the room and banishes the murkiness, letting you see the things you couldn't see before. Its never too late to take a moment to look.
- Sharon Salzberg

Terry Tempest Williams: This Is My Living Faith

This is my living faith, an active faith, a faith of verbs: to question, explore, experiment, experience, walk, run, dance, play, eat, love, learn, dare, taste, touch, smell, listen, speak, write, read, draw, provoke, emote, scream, sin, repent, cry, kneel, pray, bow, rise, stand, look, laugh, cajole, create, confront, confound, walk back, walk forward, circle, hide, and seek.

- Terry Tempest Williams

Monday, April 25, 2016

Robert Thurman: Imagine a Culture

Imagine a culture in which everything is geared toward helping 
all individuals become the best human beings they can be; 
in which individuals are driven to devoting their lives to becoming 
enlightened by the natural flood of compassion for 
others that arises from their wisdom.
- Robert Thurman