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Showing posts from 2017

Tomorrow at Gabriola Branch of VIRL

Flightpaths The Lost Journals of Amelia Earhart Heidi Greco
June 17, 1:30 - 2:30 PM
Vancouver Island Regional Library, 
Gabriola Branch 575 N Rd #5, Gabriola, BC V0R 1X3
(250) 247-7878
On the 120th anniversary of Amelia Earhart’s birth and the 80th anniversary of her disappearance, award-winning poet, Heidi Greco revitalizes what we know about the iconic aviator through uplifting and historically mesmerizing verse.

If most people were asked what they know about Amelia Earhart, they’d probably respond with something like “Wasn’t she that pilot who went missing when she tried to fly around the world?” Although that much is true, Earhart was so much more. She was a feminist at a time when women were just beginning to make inroads towards equality. She was a best-selling author who made appearances and speeches that inspired many. In addition, she was a pacifist, a poet, a punster – the list could go on. She was ahead of her time in so many ways, right down to the no-nonsense clothes she wore (m…

The Crown of Centralized Power

The crown of centralized power is the castle. Protected by the walls and weapons, the servants and sycophants just like medieval monarchy.  The walls are built by ideology and propaganda:  those who are in positions of power have earned  or inherited them.  The weapon is money.

If people become too socially enlightened they challenge power and when that happens the canons are rolled out.  Blaming the most powerless, finding scapegoats, ritual abuse, war, public shaming, pornography, poverty, misogyny, misanthropy, misandry, racism, homophobia and inequality. These are the weapons that divide and conquer. The fleeting feelings of superiority may bring support for the crown, but is soon diminished because there is no good feeling when you realize you are being manipulated.

The psyche of the ordinary man, woman and child is to be ritually punctured with doubt, self-loathing and fear. Violence towards others in entertainment and the commons atomizes the people who believe no-one can be t…

Naomi Klein and The Future of The World

Activist and author "Naomi Klein argues in her new book No Is Not Enough: Resisting the New Shock Politics and Winning the World We Needthat we should have been expecting someone like [Trump]." Anna Maria Tremonti's interview with Naomi Klein is something we, who care about life on this planet, need to listen to. We need to think about strategies of resistance rather than reacting to every crisis being broadcast.

Worship of Power As Shared Mental Illness

A study reported in the Telegraph, written by Martin Evans, claims "The children of rich parents are put under so much pressure to succeed they are at an increased risk of suffering" ...   from anxiety and depression at twice the normal rate of children from less well off families. Eating disorders, drug abuse, neuroses and self harming were found to be much more common among wealthy teenagers.

I suspect that wealth signifies skill, intelligence or talent, and wealth "proves"  success. This manifests within the psyche of offspring a duty to prove their academic or athletic superiority, otherwise they are letting their family down. Relentless pressure can be applied while parents are unaware of how it impacts their child's health.

"The American psychologist who carried out the study said many children were finding it impossible to live up to the expectations being placed on them by their rich and successful parents."

Sheri Johnson, a Berkeley psychologis…

Getting Tough, Simplifying the Disorder

In the latest UUWorld online newsletter, the Rev. Lynn Ungar responded to news that the U.S. would be pulling out of the Paris climate accord.
"The fact of the matter is that the current administration works out of an ideology of “getting tough.” The primary value is expressing dominance, not achieving goals that would be of real advantage to the citizens of the US. We “get tough” with our allies rather than looking at how we could cooperate to mutual advantage. . . . We “get tough” by eliminating regulations, without bothering to pay attention to whether those regulations serve the common good, or whether there might be different regulations that might serve everyone better. . . .

The goal is to demonstrate power and control. . . . There is no weighing of costs and benefits. There is no search for creative solutions. There is only the goal of winning, and you know that you are winning because someone else is losing.

It is, in short, the epitome of both white supremacy and toxic ma…

Facts Refute Myths About Homeless People

By understanding more about homelessness we empower ourselves as a community to solve the problem together. Below are a few common misconceptions about people who experience homelessness, along with some facts that refute those myths.

People need to earn their way back into housing.

When we talk about holding people accountable, we may assume that they've had the same chances that we have all had, but done less with them. We assume their parents packed them lunch for school and helped them do their homework. We may assume a lot of things, but we can be way off base. Most people who become homeless come from backgrounds of systemic abuse and neglect. Statistics in America reveal that the odds of someone in the general population becoming homeless is 1 in 194, whereas those same odds for kids coming out of foster care are 1 in 11.

Homeless people are dangerous.

Homeless people are more likely to be victims of violent crimes than to commit those crimes themselves. People without ho…

Social democracy versus “populism”

From the Broadbent Institute:

"Contemporary right populism succeeds by weaving together two forces. On the one hand, a sense of identity threat among majorities directed against ethnic, cultural or religious minorities, or immigrants in general; a threat which plays to attitudes that often lie dormant beneath appeals for tolerance and openness. On the other, a sense of grievance at growing inequality, or a loss of status, income, or security in relation to the recent past." Charles Taylor.

After WWII workers and other non-elite citizens believed they could act effectively within the political arena to meet their needs and to invest in a system of social justice. Left, Labour parties in the UK, and social democratic parties in Europe relied on the engagement of people for support and the people believed they had the power and responsibility to be involved by learning about the issues and voting. 

The emphasis on the economy created a fear that social responsibility would make  j…

Hate Never Makes Us Great

When men and women support movements of hate, such as white supremacists, anti-immigrant groups, the Nazi's of the 1930's, the Spanish Inquisition of the 15th Century, and witch-hunts all over the world - is that because we are desperately trying to shake off the feeling that we are redundant?

Is the absolute focus on the economy a sign that humanity has been replaced by a mathematical construct?

Is the invention of endless enemies really about culling a species that has over-populated the earth and the reason we can't deal with our own part in climate change because we cannot face the notion we are culpable for the problems we created?
What I'm talking about here is that mass of  a privileged humanity who have not had to prove themselves in any public way but who understand that "we" are included in the narrative.   The ones who spend a lot of time thinking about right and wrong but whose survival is not dependant on making the moral choice. The ones who ar…

Why People Join Extremist Organizations

"People join extremists organisations for quite a number of reasons. Some - especially those locally recruited - mostly join for economic benefits." Mahdi Abdile is Finn Church Aid’s Regional Representative for East and Southern Africa. European Institute of Peace.

In countries where opportunities are scarce, weak governments and unprotected human rights, terrorism is an opportunity for destabilizing the status quo. Somalia, 27% joined al Shabab for economic reasons and 15% mentioned religious reasons. Once established 13% were forced to join.

Simon Cottee writes in The Atlantic"Since the 1980s, (the idea it is driven by individual pathology) has fallen into disrepute, and the scholarly consensus now holds that the roots of terrorism lie not in the individual, but in the wider circumstances in which terrorists live and act."

Noam Chomsky warns in an Alternet article, a false flag terror attack could be staged as Donald Trump supporters realize  he can't fulfill…

How to Fight Terrorism

Again my heart goes out to the people who have lost loved ones in the recent bombing in Manchester, those whose lives have been interrupted and first responders who will be traumatized by the images. It is outrageous that so few  can  destroy so many. The appetite for revenge is primal but revenge will not solve this problem.

So how can we fight that instinct to keep blowing up the blown apart?  Invest in peaceful, healing initiatives that make violence redundant.

1. Invest in mental health services to give those at risk the help they need before their illness isolates them from society.

2. Re-establish the primary needs of people - shelter, nutritious food, education, living wages and time for family.

3. Support families by providing health services, family planning, women's reproductive education.

4. Sex education that covers the real experiences of young men and women on top of the scientific knowledge about human sexuality.

5. Encourage children to develop a social conscience…

We Don't Want Prosperity or Justice

Usually, all it takes is 30-40% of the population to determine the outcomes of our democracy. Less than half the population who have  chosen gadgets and toys above clean water, clean air, or good health. 40% who are not interested in equality, because, if they look closely at their preferences,  what they (we) want is superiority.

Superiority is a fantasy of being part of a tribe, race or nation that is wealthier, more intelligent, of good breeding, who are entitled to control others.

Political parties who claim to want equality have to be so careful how they phrase that. The word itself diminishes the hope of "getting ahead", "being on top", "control". Equality is a threat to the  massaged ego looking for any opportunity to win. How can anyone or anything prove itself in a world that values all?

There are many literary references to this ego. Othello, Death of a Salesman, and countless TV dramas.  George Orwell, Margaret Atwood, among many others, have …

It's the worship of power that alienates us from our own power

I grew up believing that, to be a success, I had to emulate the rich and famous people on television and movies, as they presented themselves in public - for surely that is exactly who they are.

An incredible assumption isn't it?

In one of the teen magazines I filled out a questionnaire which told me this was the way to find out who I am.

The conclusion was that I was shallow! I was shocked because the people I looked to for advice said, I thought too much, I was too serious, and the boys would not like me because of that.

At the time I had no idea of how power worked. I thought you had it or you didn't, and if you didn't others would wipe the floor with you. In defence of that I decided to stand strong and not let anyone push me around. What I couldn't see was how others actually saw me.  Many years later, after many mistakes and several bouts of depression, I realized I appeared snobbish and cold.

So I re-masked myself, drew in some confidence and went out to learn …

The Mycelium Party

I think it might be time to create another new political party called the Mycelium Movement

The emphasis of governing principles being about control has turned the best of human nature into a reductionist cruelty. 

Those at the 'top' find ways to restrict freedom, contain life, rather than encourage it. Political leaders must fall into the machinery of external control and use whatever powers they have to win from it. This is like negotiating with a tape worm growing inside you.

Of course the language is prettied up and sanitized by phrases such as "jobs and economy", or even "social justice". These notions imply we must fit into a thing instead of building on an idea. Originally the terms had positive meanings but have been corrupted so much they mean something else entirely.

Hegemony has spread in and over our imaginations. Being well adjusted has meant our own creative ideas take the back seat in a dark corner.

Many great thinkers know that we thrive on lov…

Evensong for the night before elections

This is the night before an election where we shall choose a future for the people and the planet on which they depend, or corporations and profit.

The future for people is fraught with complexity, darkness, and light. The future for corporations and profit will be a continual move towards death, war and poverty.

May we have the fortitude and insight to choose the former, even as those who are our leaders may not realize the gravity of their positions.

Eyewear: Fortnight Prize for Best Poem Every 14 days

Ends on May 10, 2017 £7.00 GBPThe Fortnight New Poem Prize is meant to celebrate poetry in a fast-paced digital world, where too often prizes are entered with interminable waiting times between submission and result. For this prize, any original, English-language poem written by the author is eligible, even one that has appeared in print before (online or on paper, for instance). The poem must be less than 70 lines long, and must have been written or published in the year of submission. All poets are eligible to enter, 18 or over, so long as they do not work for Eyewear Publishing or are related to anyone employed at the company. Poems can be submitted for seven days, and then a shortlist of the 14 best poems is announced on our widely-read website (archived by the British Library). The winner is announced a fortnight from commencement of the prize, and they are paid the same day by PayPal invoice. The prize is £140 and publication on our world-famous blog. All rights remain with the…

Only one bear in a hundred bites, but they don't come in order

Video by Bob Bossin and Paul Grignon

Whose fault is it then?

Plan 30 years Ahead, Start Today

"Without community, politics is dead. But communities have been scattered like dust in the wind. At work, at home, both practically and imaginatively, we are atomised." George Monbiot Many experience politics as an external force, ruled from above. Politicians that understand this and realize we have been duped, and who want to create a relevant government, are viewed with cynicism and suspicion. It's as though graduation into adulthood means you understand this and any conversation about how to improve our collective lot will be met with derision.  "Extrinsic values such as power, fame and status" writes Monbiot, make love and peace redundant.   Monbiot offers  examples of how we might begin to rebuild our shared future: Community shops, development trusts, food assemblies (fresh food directly from local producers), community choirs, free universities where people exchange knowledge and skills in social spaces, time banking where neighbours give their time to …

Happy Easter

[The Resurrection] "teaches us that the oppressive systems of this world do not stand a chance against Love. It teaches us that you cannot nail Love down – we tried that once and it did not work." Rev. Mark Sandlin What is love? Generally love is attachment and can be interpreted in many ways. In the context of the resurrection of a beloved teacher, I believe, it is empathy and compassion. A call to know life around us, not just as labour for capitalism, a trainee for the military, or a consumer for business. The meaning of life is life itself and should be its own reward. A reverence for life does not oppress, or befuddle with sophistry, games and false hierarchy.

We are all related, so whatever hurts others hurts me too. I can see that I have a vested interest in the way humans are treated because I am also a human. This is clear with the threatened use  of nuclear weapons.

It Isn't Your Fault

It isn't your fault that systems have learned  how to manipulate you with false beliefs. 
It isn't your fault that patriarchy has learned how to kill  your brothers by making you their robots. 
It isn't your fault you vote for parties who promise wealth  but only for those at the top when you thought for all. 
It isn't your fault that rulers have philosophers, marketers, strategists  and weapons while you have only one vote. 
It isn't your fault the oppressors have learned all the tricks  to keep you coming back for more. 
It isn't your fault that those given the privilege to choose  life, invested only in control of a woman's body, 
while showing contempt for the needs of the beings born from that body. 
It isn't your fault your heart has been broken so many times it severed the link to your brain. 
It isn't your fault the highest public endeavour  has been turned into a 30 second commercial.

Inequality Threatens Core of Democracy

As Tommy Douglas used to say: “We must never underestimate our opponents; nor should we forget that the closer we come to reaching our objectives, the more vicious and forthright will their opposition become.”

Ed Broadbent warns we "must renew our commitment to a more equal society to head off the spreading of disenchantment with its resultant intolerance and nativism."

Intolerance and hatred is the goal of those who seek fleeting feelings of power because they are, or at least feel politically powerless. Their rage percolates beneath the surface until a rhetoric becomes more vicious and incites attacks such as the murder of six people in Quebec targeted for simply being Muslim.

Right wing fanning of intolerance and hate benefits the ruling elite who fear their privileges will be taken away. When emancipation of the masses becomes normal, new wars, restrictive policies and social chaos are the devices used to shut down democracy.

"We need to change the game. And we …

National Poetry Month III

Treasure Your Grief
Not like a piece of jewellery kept in a box but a scar across your face a house plant blooming where sun glares through a window.
Go back to that time— the sunny afternoon in the park you didn’t question your feelings sweeping you out from childhood to another’s body so close it enters like a possession a desire that doesn’t name itself
cut by fear this is how women are destroyed and you run away shut down the portal to pleasure as you will do again and again.
Go back to the image you hold onto the someday promised, this or this the girl who gives because she feels the movie star everyone wants but can’t have the radiant flesh, the brilliant idea all yours if you play your cards right not wrong. Right not left. Right not alone, starving or battered.
New dove, shapely, winged and wise, goddess poised on the edge of a mountain in the clouds ready to jump or fly to eternal glory