November 5, 2015

The World Through My Eyes. Image Credit: Lucille Pine, via Flickr

Our World. What does that mean? It can mean a great many things, and those meanings greatly depend on our worldview.

Worldviews start shortly after birth, growing in size and detail as we age; the lens shaped by our surrounding culture formed through our environment. To better understand our current worldview, its impacts and how, if need be, to change it for the better we need to know how our world got to where it is in the first place.

History of World Connections

Every society began with the most basic structure, subsistence tribal living with our world and resources immediate and familiar. Many cultivated self-sustaining gardens, commonly called food forests. Some still continue this way of life.

Forests are a vital livelihood support system for people in the Chattisgarh tribal area. Image Source: The importance of forest products for tribal women in India. IFAD.

Through exploration, trade and conquest, nations develop, expanding our world and resources, increasing influence, affluence, social stratification and innovation. Social stratification is amplified as the more affluent gather more influence by insinuating control over resources or outright taking by force. Affluence enables scholarly pursuits that buildup knowledge resources and encourages innovation. Even while not knowing what’s beyond the oceans, scholars are able to obtain a worldview that encompasses a planet and beyond. Yet with high status exclusiveness and war, this knowledge and its innovations become lost. Imperial collapse contracts our world to a tribal level, and renewal of exploration, trade, conquest, and scholarship expands it again.

Scholarly resources return and when they become more openly shared, while social stratification remains, knowledge becomes selectively restricted by those of influential high status to ensure their influence continues that of which perpetuates social stratification. Exploration, trade and conquest goes on, producing new innovations in ships that allow for armed fleets to explore and conquer what lay beyond the oceans. Lands are discovered, so far and foreign as to be considered new and other worlds. These new worlds become part of our world that again further our resources, innovation, affluence, influence, and social stratification.

BASF Werk Ludwishafen 1881 by unbekannter Maler. Public Domain

Large impoverished populations resulting from extreme social stratification become available for cheap labour along with new industrial innovations sets-off mass industry. This causes increases in demand, that increases resource exploration, furthering innovation that exponentiates further demand, resource extraction and innovation. The fortunate of the common people accumulate commodities, scholarship and influence, reaching a quality life once limited to high status, establishing the middle class. The increase in middle class influence leads to more political rights, deteriorating social stratification and develops into a movement for human rights. Our world becomes a human world – sharing needs, wants and experiences with people all over the planet. As each nation attains human rights and regulates for a healthy environment, mass industry moves to where mass cheap labour and unobstructed industrial practices can be found. Thus ensuring maximized profits for their shareholders and therefore their continued existence.

Continued exploration, trade, scholarly pursuits and war established innovations for our first forays off planet – once again voyaging with new ships to new worlds. Only that, for the first time ever, we see our whole world from the outside. When looking back our knowledge that our world is a planet fully materializes. We realize we’ve reached the ultimate outer boundary, that our world isn’t just a human world, but a world covered in life we share this planet with, and all of us have no where else to go. From space we can see large cities, mines, roads, and industries feeding into a vast network of human civilization enveloping the planet. The impacts we’ve found from this social structure is alarming for our well-being now and in generations to come. The more we learn, the more we find that we have massive impacts on the planet, all the way to our planet’s climate.

Photo of The Gulf of Mexico and U.S. Gulf Coast at Dusk, Image posted on social media on Dec. 14, 2014. Image Credit: NASA/Terry Virts

Looking through the history of how we got to this point we learn a great many things that can help us. One of which is that as we have expanded where our resources come from, we’ve also become more disconnected with our environment our resources come from. Because of this disassociation, and thus any negative impacts that may arise in our connections with it, we end up with a worldview and culture that is instead associated with the system that supplies our resources. This is the root of all the harmful impacts to our planetary well-being. So the first thing to do is figure out how we connect to our resources, what their impacts are and from there ensure we make positive connections.

Impacts of Our Connections

Image Credit: Leïla la Très Sage
Image Credit: Leïla la Très Sage

To learn the impacts of your resource connections, start by going through what you are using and doing from the beginning to the end of a regular day. As you go through your day ask the following questions:

For each question consider if there is
toxins, worker’s rights, living wage, sustainability, and biodiversity?

1) What is it?
Find out each ingredient be it plant, animal, mineral or something else.

2) Where is it originally from?
Where did each ingredient to make it come from? Do the people and the land have legal protection and are those laws followed through with?

3) How was it cultivated and/or harvested?
Are the management practices sustainable and the ecosystem diverse?

4) Are the ingredients finite, endless, or replenishable?
Finite: Useable only once
Endless: Reusable/100% recyclable/cannot be used up
Replenishable: A bit of both – it can be used up or be reused/remain if used sustainably

5) How did it reach its final form I found it in when I got it?
Where and how did it come together for manufacturing and packaging? Are there any manufacturing by-products? What are they and what is done with them?

6) How did it get to the location it did before I got hold of it?
Who and what transported it? What are the effects of that form of transportation and its route? Was it nearby/long distance, efficient, or through sensitive areas?

7) Where was it purchased from?
Was it from a big box store or local store – where is the money going? Where is the store’s location? Was it near/far? Is it occupying sensitive land? What are the effects of the store’s operation?

8) How is it used and what is its end of life like?
How long does it last? Is it disposable, recyclable, reused? Heirloom quality/lifetime/years/months/days/hours/minutes? Where does it go when you’re done with it or die?

Disposable: Can only downgrade, not recyclable – such as petroleum based plastics. All petroleum based plastics eventually end up being disposed as small particulate pollutants that can’t be recycled back into the ecosystem.

Recyclable: Can be completely recycled into the same product again and again – such as aluminum or glass. Or it can become recycled nutrient for life – true compost.

NOTE: Biodegradable includes things that are only downgradable – breaking down as to no longer be seen but not able to be recycled in the ecosystem

9) Why do I have it? Would I be better off without it?
Is it something I actually need or do I barely even use it?

A general guideline is if you don’t do anything with it within a year its something you can do without, including sentimental items. Sentimental items can be altered into something that will be used such as a quilt of shirts you no longer wear but can’t give away because of what is on it. Having less stuff can bring about a more interactive, engaging lifestyle where you go out and do more things with others rather than work more to have more things you don’t even need or really ever use.

 

By the time you reach the end of your typical day you’d likely accumulate a large list of things you don’t know much about. Then there are the less frequent activities and items you use to consider. By now it can be pretty overwhelming, but it can be satisfying to put the pieces together and see where you stand with your impacts. Just through these things, it is pretty amazing how much of an influence you have on the world.

Image Credit: NASA/Barry Wilmore
Photo of the Great Lakes and central U.S. on Dec. 7, 2014. Image Credit: NASA/Barry Wilmore

After having your impacts fleshed out, take an outside perspective; from your current impacts what can you infer on what your worldview is? Studying these impacts can sometimes reveal some uncomfortable realizations, particularly what we believe to be our worldview may not be what is expressed in our actions, and may instead be expressing an entirely different worldview from what we had believed. But it is by looking at how we can obtain our resources in a way that ensures a healthy planet that you can change the outcome from oblivious exploitation to symbiotic interaction.

Making Harmonious Connections

The answers to these questions can be changed to be very simple and non-conflicting to the health of our planet through a very basic approach – keep it close, open source, and in a way that brings it back to you. Meaning that what we source for our needs should be as close as reasonably possible (like that of a subsistence tribal social structure, which had seen eons of successful management because we are able to respond directly, immediately whenever something arises, efficiently securing more environmentally sound outcomes); That everything about it should be publicly known (avoiding selectively restricted knowledge that gives more influence to the affluent, which encourages social stratification); And what its made of is reusable and completely recycled, be it remanufactured or recycled in the ecosystem (Working with how Nature functions instead of against it as how a tribal social structure would function). This is also referred to as regenerative design. Regenerative design would eradicate the landfill – no more garbage, just by-products.

Image Source: Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things is a 2002 non-fiction book by German chemist Michael Braungart and U.S. architect William McDonough.

Local Connections

The closest sphere of influence for positive change is to supply yourself from your immediate environment by way of: A Yard Garden – which can include small livestock for food and materials, such as honey, wool from miniature sheep and chicken eggs; A Community Garden – This can include a Sheep or Pig Club; A Patio/Indoor Garden – This is a potted garden for apartment dwellers and can easily include fruiting shrubs and trees, such as citrus trees which can live and provide fruit happily in a small pot. All of these have been done in an urban landscape and is usually referred to as urban homesteading or urban permaculture.

Apartment Gardening. IMAGE SOURCE: http://www.realfarmacy.com/tips-for-starting-an-apartment-garden/
Apartment Gardening. IMAGE SOURCE: http://www.realfarmacy.com/tips-for-starting-an-apartment-garden/
IMAGE CREDIT: Phila. : Breuker & Kessler, Co. 1917 or 1918
Community raised sheep to provide fiber to clothe soldiers in World War II. IMAGE CREDIT: Phila. : Breuker & Kessler, Co. 1917 or 1918

With these resources and the right scholarly resources you can develop skills to make what you need from them. For this there are things such as Makerspaces and Tool Libraries. Makerspaces are open community labs for peer learning and knowledge sharing that incorporates machine shops, workshops, and studios. It is used by members to work on their individual projects or to collaborate on group projects and can take the form of workshops, presentations, and lectures. 3D printers and collaborated open source resources, such as Open Source Ecology, are increasingly being used in such community oriented projects as a springboard for innovation. This kind of approach has been promoted as a new kind of industrial revolution, potentially restructuring the current economic system heavily reliant on global mass industries, to a system that has decentralized, collaborative, local industries. You can otherwise have a local entrepreneur do this step for you, such as spinners, weavers, butchers, carpenters, and candle makers. This also boosts the local economy – a main reason to support local businesses as opposed to franchises and chain stores. If you can’t find a local entrepreneur, you can become the local entrepreneur.

Image Source: https://decadiaries.wordpress.com/2013/05/23/east-end-tool-library-please-read-and-share/

Ecological diversity needs to be maintained for the community’s health and well being as it stabilizes and adds resilience to the environment. This reduces or even eradicates flood and drought events and increases nutrient density, preventing disease from spreading – including between ourselves and the livestock and plants we are cultivating. So planting appropriate species to build up ecological diversity and preserving wild spaces already present is of great value. These wild spaces can also be a resource for food or medicine. The act of doing so is called wildcrafting which has basic guidelines of taking no more than a third of what is there, and taking only the fruit, flowers or branches from plants. Otherwise, plant the seeds of the plant harvested. This ensures there is always plenty left for the future.

Image Source: http://blog.chestnutherbs.com/wildcrafting

All these local collaborative approaches are equivalent to the tribal approach. Where the communities organically develop a culture revolving around supplying themselves with their immediate environment.

Regional & National Connections

The next sphere of influence is from your immediate region of farms, forestry, and mining. This is the first level of needing open information to find out whether or not human rights and ecosystems are preserved and sustainably resourced. If not you can make public appeal to governing agencies to ensure that this is the case. This is especially effective when it comes to elections where you can support campaigning efforts of the ideal candidate for these issues. If there isn’t a candidate that would ensure this, enter yourself as a candidate and garner support from the voters of your region. The next level is your nation which has the same approach in source and causing change with respect to those sources.

International Connections

Following that level is neighbouring nations, then staying on the same continent, then the rest of the world. These being much more difficult to ensure human rights and ecosystems are preserved, and is sustainably sourced. This is not to say that a global economy is bad, it can even be better to get certain supplies from abroad if that item cannot grow or be sourced where you are, but still use; is native to that area and is part of traditional living there. Things like cinnamon, peppercorn or vanilla. By supporting sustainable practices abroad you can help preserve biological and cultural diversity all over the planet. If there is no way of getting ethical supplies for more exotic or resources rare for where you are then there are a few options: lobby your government to only allow trade with nations that preserve ecological diversity, are acting sustainably and protect human rights; Vote with your money and only spend your money where these issues are upheld – including the investing of your banking institution; and support human rights and environmental protection efforts in the communities these resources are from.

Conclusion

It is through analyzing the impacts of worldviews throughout human history we can learn how to prevent unfavourable occurrences from repeating themselves and promote what has shown to be beneficial to a limited earth. We can have resources without being detrimental to the environment through local cultivation of forest gardens and trade that supports human and environmental rights; We can have innovation without wars of conquest through scholarship, trade, and exploration; We can have industry without exploitation through decentralized, local, collaborative industries; And we can all equally have affluence and influence through mutual respect of human rights. By supporting local communities and cultures throughout the planet with sustainable, biodiverse, open trade, you end up supporting tribal globalization (a culturally diverse planet, where each culture is reflective of their environment instead of a corporate supply system). And by promoting and sharing knowledge freely you prevent a reversion to a smaller worldview that usually is accompanied with conflicts with neighbours, stratified social structures, and tyrannies, thus enabling more peaceful relations and increase quality of life for all. With this kind of approach we can maintain a planetary worldview that keeps the ecosystem healthy for all life on earth.

 

If you liked the questionnaire in this article, you may also 
like the Ehoah Bioregional Quiz.

January 30, 2017

Until this February I did not want to bother with writing about American Politics. Even as I started to encountered FAR too many people who are in complete denial about Trump’s actions and the goals of Republican leaders in the White House and Congress. Before his inauguration, just pointing out basic facts of what he did in his campaign for a historical law comparison, led to self described Political Moderates to call for censorship. Arguing that to describe how a current political figure would have been affected by ancient Celtic law had no place in a forum about ancient Celtic history. This led to the post being removed by the admin.

Then I saw the news of his first week in office and decided I had to write on everything I saw that led to this point. Then shortly into my writing, tragedy struck home. The following had thus taken weeks to bring together as there simply was so much ground to cover on the subject and near constant news to add to it.

This is an attempt to bring all this information together in an accessible way that reveals the array of occurrences that have led to now, and how society can combat them.

WHEN MODERATES ARE NOT MODERATES

When we cannot even mention basic facts that relate to a political figure, it is an expression of willful denial and political censorship.

It was clear to me and others on the forum that the problem lay with the people who felt that to mention a particular political figure was contentious in itself. They were being intolerant to anything that challenged this political figure, no matter how true it was. The stated reasoning was that the subject was being disputed – allowing credence to the disputing party because of fairness and that what I was presenting was just an opinion. Which is a fallacy known as “False-Balance“.

This was particularly strange coming from people who considered themselves Moderates. Because Moderates, out of all political stripes, should be most in favor of having no political figure be immune from facts. But it now looks to me as an excuse for not talking about politics in anyway to avoid any uncomfortable subjects – or they had an unresolved bias.

baselessnessagainsthillaryversustruthagainsttrump
View report from Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy; analyzing news coverage during the 2016 general election here. Or an article summarizing it here. Or click image for a video summarizing the False Equivalency in the 2016 general election.

The sad things is, I believe that this whole kerfuffle would not have happened if the comparison was about Putin, Napoleon, Winston Churchill, or even if it were about George Bush. In fact, earlier last year, a then current, far more politically charged post went through without a problem. It was about Norse archaeology being censored by a previous Conservative Prime Minister of Canada. This was evidence enough to me that there was a clear American Bias and double standard when it came to talking about politics.

I have consistently come across Moderates online that are adamant about not picking sides but focusing on fixing the political system. In that, I agree the political system of the USA is very very broken,

(notably how At Least 50 Trump Electors Were Illegitimately Seated as Electoral College Members)

and certainly does need all the people possible to work on fixing it to actually represent the people’s voice.

We Canadians share the same problem with First Past The Post, which has led to Canadians having regrettable Minority Rule with Stephen Harper. Seeing what happened to us is happening to my American neighbours, but worse,

The Death of Evidence rally made its way onto Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 10, 2012. Photograph by: Jean Levac , The Ottawa Citizen
The Death of Evidence rally made its way onto Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 10, 2012.
Photograph by: Jean Levac , The Ottawa Citizen

and knowing how that felt, on top of how much more fundamentalist this particular brand of conservatism is compared to the Canadian brand – I cannot, and will not standby and tolerate Americans telling me to not talk about facts in American Politics anymore.

ourlivesbegintoendthedaywebecomesilentaboutthingsthatmatter

By now it should be apparent what people have been talking about bracing for the Don Trump Presidency, was not an exaggeration. All those warnings about him following through with the worst of what he said was not just political rhetoric. He is following through with it.

hillaryvstrumpday7

At this point, if you still hold onto the idea that people should accept his presidency and just move on – you are the ultimate of willfully blind, or you are like him: fascist, racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, bigoted.

Because to ignore and censor facts about the politicians who are determined to bulldoze people’s rights is to passively support them. If you cannot see how wrong that is by now, you ought to prepare for civil strife. Because you have no right to call yourself a moderate, because you are de facto apathetic to human rights and have chosen the side of the oppressor.

i-believe-in-the-grail
Imagery and Quote from the film “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”

Anti-Intellectualism, A Fertile Ground For Fascism

Leaders of the Republican Party have blatantly revealed themselves to be Fascists.

“Fascism is a form of government which is a type of one-party dictatorship. Fascists are against liberal democracy. They work for a totalitarian one-party state.[1] This aims to prepare the nation for armed conflict, and to respond to economic difficulties.[2] Such a state is led by a strong leader—such as a dictator and a martial government.[3] Fascism is an extreme right-wing political movement. It tends to be militaristic, and racist.”…

“There is more than one reason why people living in democratic states oppose fascism, but the main reason is that in a fascist dictatorship the individual citizen has no guaranteed rights. If you say the wrong thing or oppose the wrong person, you can be arrested or killed without a fair trial.

Many people believe that fascism would not be a terrible system if you always do your duty and you never oppose the government. However, the problem is that people can be corrupt. Everything looks good in theory, but in real life innocent people can get into serious trouble with the government when there is no guaranteed right to a fair trial.” – Fascism, Simple English Wikipedia

Republicans have fought for complete government control under the guise of Christianity. The Christian support of the Republican party over the Democratic party apparently being heavily affected by the Democrat’s support for abortion, “in order to keep Clinton from appointing liberal judges to SCOTUS [Supreme Court of the United States]”. Trump having secured endorsements from conservative Christians leaders by promising to appoint pro-life judges. Clinching that support by providing a list of 21 candidates for appointment to the court. According to New York TimesJudges on Trump’s list are also conservative on gay marriage.

And yet, equal marriage and abortion is a human right, with abortion being recently confirmed as a human right by the United Nations. Adding to the list of unconstitutional things the Republican party wishes to impose.

christainvotesfortrump

fascism-enters-america-wrapped-in-flag-carrying-cross

I guess a lot of people weren’t paying attention, because it should have been obvious, with all the blatant clues everywhere – Fundamentalist Christian Home schools and Post Secondary Schools, both being highly politically motivated to enforce Christian Values on the general public with the associated organizations being a major influence. Now it has culminated with the adults that were the generation that has gone through this entire indoctrination process, being injected into the Republican Party to gain control of the government and enforce their Christian Reconstructionism.

christianfundamentalistmission

The plan worked, even though they were not the majority.

gerrymandering
But this system has serious human rights flaws – and not just the unconstitutional gerrymandering.

This kind of isolating indoctrination are attacks against human rights of freedom – because you cannot be free if you are not permitted the option of even knowing about different worldviews.

quote-there-is-a-cult-of-ignorance-in-the-united-states-and-there-has-always-been-the-strain-isaac-asimov-46-11-18
And I do not care what group it is from, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Pagan, Atheist, Maoist, Marxist, White Supremacist, Taoist, Shintoist, Buddhist whatever – whether considered good or bad, this sort of restriction of knowledge in any expression is always bad. Because it isolates families and whole communities, causing a sense of ‘us versus them’. ‘Them’ being anyone who does not fit into their puristic definition of family or community. Resulting in a fear of this ‘other’ that leads to fighting to take over governance to protect their views and way of life from ‘them’. And that is how you get fascism.

quote-ignorance-allied-with-power-is-the-most-ferocious-enemy-justice-can-have-james-baldwin-208863

“fascism is an idea mixed with action. It took fascism to establish Jim Crow and before that, slavery….Anti-Semitism has been around a long time but it took fascism to [make] the Holocaust….When you cross that threshold, you negate your rights to a calm, collective conversation.” – anonymous ARA (Anti-Racist Action) member

Therefore, no matter what worldview it is based on, all education must adhere to human rights, which includes learning about all the different worldviews in an impartial way – clearly with the exception of worldviews that advocate the violation of human rights. Otherwise, it must be dismantled for the toxic ideology that it inevitably breeds, perpetuates and manifests into fascism.

Cowards flee from encountering other beliefs, while the Courageous seek to find if their beliefs are worthy.

Venom of ‘Free Speech’

Co-existence and Tolerance has a threshold. When people are permitted to isolate themselves from facts and avoid having their beliefs and leaders questioned – be they a politician, religious leader, or deity – the public becomes complacent with the vitriolic rhetoric from those leaders and their followers. Such leaders can increase the severity toward any opposition and people feel that they can ignore the resulting intolerance and hate crime as their right to free speech. Believing it to be valid, or to avoid the leader’s and their supporter’s wrath.

Johanna Gerechter Neumann’s Father, A patriotic German and World War I veteran, “certainly thought that it could never happen in Germany”, “It did happen. Slowly, but it did happen.”

Aging survivors worry, “It is repeating itself, and it is again the inattention that people pay to real cues that one should understand,”

“it could become Weimar Germany if you have Mr. Trump here and people keep believing what he says. I think one has to speak up. And that’s the one lesson from the Holocaust: Do not be a bystander.”

Martin Weiss hears echoes of his youth, “I don’t want to make any comparison to Hitler, but believe it or not his delivery and the way he conducts himself is very similar to Hitler’s way of doing things. He discredits everybody who disagrees with him. He’s insulting. He discriminates against everybody.” 

“Sooner or later, you know what happens in a case like this? That’s how Weimar Germany went to hell, because when Hitler came in, if somebody disagreed with him — guess what — he put them in prison or he had them shot or he opened the concentration camp.”

Source: Dana Milbank / The Washington Post, In the age of Trump, grim warnings from Holocaust survivors / January 27th 2016

The US president calls the media
The US president calls the media “enemies of the people” – a phrase favoured by Stalin and Mao.

When that manifests in concentration camps, it is too late. The government already has full control over the populace and any speaking out is severely punished without anyone to help you. This is how Fascism takes hold over the public. This is why a truly tolerant society cannot tolerate intolerance – what is called “The Paradox Of Tolerance”.

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Poem by Martin Niemöller (1892–1984). A prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps.

itdidnotstartwithgaschambers

And people stopped caring, became desensitized mindlessly obedient and turned a blind eye a long time ago when it came to the indigenous people, black citizens, public health, classicism, sexism, ableism etc. continuing with the merger of the Tea Party with the Republican party, and now when Donald Trump was able to run and win the Presidential Election in the name of Free Speech and Democracy.

40’s-era political cartoon designed by Dr. Seuss
40’s-era political cartoon designed by Dr. Seuss
“America First” – A Dog Whistle For White Supremacists

Political Cartoon by Barry Deutsch
Political Cartoon by Barry Deutsch

Along with FascismNeo-Nazis / White Supremacists have come out into the open in the United States in support of Republican Leader Donald Trump – a modern colloquial term for themselves being “Alt-Right“.

Not only did they have a public representative that they could now openly support during the campaign, but after Trump won, he made short work of appointing White Supremacists to his cabinet.

Since election day, incidents of Hate Crime have skyrocketed.

On Saturday, November 19th / 2016, in Washington D.C. an Alt-Right conference celebrated Trump’s victory. At this conference Alt-Right Leader Richard Spencer had made a number of allusions to Nazi ideology Declaring, “Hail Trump! Hail our people! Hail victory!” that prompted a standing applause from his audience with several doing Hitler salutes.

Throughout Trump’s campaign, he mentioned registering Muslims – a point that many have tied to the registry of Jews in Nazi Germany.

After Trumps election, on November 16th, Media Conglomerate Fox News interviews Trump supporter Carl Higbie. Within the interview, Fox News’ Host Megyn Kelly states,

“Kansas Secretary of State Chris Kobach, who helped write the tough immigration laws in Arizona, said today that Trump’s policies advisers are drafting — they’re discussing drafting a proposal to reinstate a registry for immigrants from Muslim countries. For immigrants from Muslim countries.”

Carl Higbie responds by citing Japanese Internment Camps As “Precedent” For Muslim Registry.

View the beginning of this interview at 18 minutes, 18 seconds,

Image Source: Justice Aaron McCartney · 24 January ·
Image Source: Justice Aaron McCartney · 24 January · “This was an experience a friend of mine had that i felt worth sharing.”

On January, 25th 2017, President Donald Trump signed an executive order empowering the homeland security secretary to ensure the “detention of aliens apprehended for violations of immigration law.” Hiring a force of 5,000 new border agents and 10,000 new immigration officers, and empowering local and state police to “perform the functions of immigration officers in relation to the investigation, apprehension, or detention” of undocumented immigrants. A required weekly report of “a comprehensive list of criminal actions committed by aliens and any jurisdiction that ignored or otherwise failed to honor any detainers with respect to such aliens.” And cuts off federal funds “except as deemed necessary for law enforcement purposes by the Attorney General or the Secretary”, in essence punishing jurisdictions that ignore ‘detainers’ with respect to ‘such aliens’.

On January 27th, Trump signed an executive order titled, ‘Protection Of The Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into The United States.’ That banned Syrian refugees, and blocking all entries from 7 majority-Muslim nations. What has been dubbed the “Muslim Ban”.

This executive order also resulted in the deportation of Military Veterans, the handcuffing and separation of children from parents for hours, detaining a woman who was traveling with her two children, both U.S. citizens, for 20 hours without food, and so on…

One of many flaws with Trump’s Muslim ban as a method of preventing Terrorists from entering the USA, is that the nations that do not have a history of Terrorism in the USA have been blocked. While nations that not only have a history of Terrorism in the USA, but also have business ties with Trump have been left off of the ban.

It was also ironically signed on Holocaust Remembrance Day, which brought to mind the refugees of World War II. The Trump administration’s statement on International Holocaust Remembrance Day ended up having no mention of the killing of approximately six million Jews. Both of these incidences were condemned by more than a dozen Holocaust survivors gathered at the Illinois Holocaust Museum in Skokie.

Holocaust survivors Aaron Elster, speaking, Fritzie Fritzshall and Ralph Rehbock at Illunois Holocaust Museum & Education Center. Feb 2. 2017. Source: Jonah Meadows / Patch.com / Donald Trump Refugee Ban Condemned By Chicago-Area Holocaust Survivors
Holocaust survivors Aaron Elster, speaking, Fritzie Fritzshall and Ralph Rehbock at Illunois Holocaust Museum & Education Center. Feb 2. 2017. Source: Jonah Meadows / Patch.com / Donald Trump Refugee Ban Condemned By Chicago-Area Holocaust Survivors

“Rehbock warned the United States is risking repeating the mistakes of the past. Thousands of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution were turned away, and more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans were forced into internment camps.”

“You dehumanize people, and then it’s OK to do what you want with them,” he said, noting the gradual way by which German Jews first had their citizenship revoked before being pushed together in ghettos and eventually forced into death camps.”

In the early hours of that Saturday, in the state of Texas, The Islamic Center of Victoria was set on fire. A week prior to that it was burglarized.

On the evening of January 29th, a shooter rampaged through the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City, Canada. Killing six people and injuring nineteen others.

While news of this attack was still fresh, on Monday January 30th / 2017, Fox New’s stated “witnesses said at least one gunman shouted ‘Allahu akbar!'” followed by a tweet alleging on the shooter’s national origin,

Twitter/@FoxNews
Twitter/@FoxNews

That same day White House press secretary Sean Spicer announced in his condolences to the Canadian victims,

“It’s a terrible reminder of why we must remain vigilant, and why the president is taking steps to be proactive, rather than reactive,”

Appearing to use this tragedy to justify Trump’s anti-Muslim policies.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office director of communications, Kate Purchase, responded to Fox New’s Tweet,

It has come to my attention that a Fox News tweet posted on Twitter at 12:31pm, January 30, 2017, contains false and misleading language relating to the identity of the suspect in the Quebec mosque terror attack. I have attached a copy of the tweet for your reference.

Over the course of the day, this proved to be false information. In fact, the suspect was identified as a 27 year old French Canadian – not ‎someone of Moroccan-origin.

Sadly, this misleading information has been left to stand on the Fox News Channel’s twitter account and continued to circulate online even now.

Canada is an open, welcoming country that stands by its citizens. We are a nation of millions of immigrants and refugees, of hundreds of cultures, languages, and religions bound by one, unwavering, unshakable belief: we are stronger not in spite of our differences, but because of them.

These tweets by Fox News dishonour the memory of the six victims and their families by spreading misinformation, playing identity politics, and perpetuating fear and division within our communities.

We need to remain focused on keeping our communities safe and united instead of trying to build walls and scapegoat communities. Muslims are predominantly the greatest victims of terrorist acts around the world. To paint terrorists with a broad brush that extends to all Muslims is not just ignorant – it is irresponsible.

If we allow individuals and organizations to succeed by scaring people, we do not actually end up any safer. Fear does not make us safer. It makes us weaker. Ramping up fear and closing our borders is not a solution. It distracts from the real issues that affect people’s day to day life.

For all of these reasons, we ask that Fox News either retract or update the tweet to reflect the suspect’s actual identity.

Thank you for your anticipated cooperation. ‎

Kate Purchase
Director of Communications
Office of the Prime Minister of Canada

Fox News deleted the tweet that Tuesday evening after receiving the office’s request — more than 24 hours after it was posted.

The truth of this attack is that half an hour after the shooting the police received a call from the area near the bridge to the Ile d’Orléans near the mosque. The caller told them he was involved and wanted to surrender. The caller was revealed to be 27 year old, white French Canadian, Alexandre Bissonnette.

Alexandre Bissonnette is escorted to a van after appearing in court for the deadly shooting at a mosque Monday Jan 30 2017 in Quebec City -- Jacques Boissinot / CP
Alexandre Bissonnette is escorted to a van after appearing in court for the deadly shooting at a mosque Monday Jan 30 2017 in Quebec City — Jacques Boissinot / CP

Alexandre Bissonnette’s online profile and school friendships revealed little interest in extremist politics until last March, when France’s far-right National Front Leader Marine Le Pen visited Quebec City.

Bissonnette was “unfortunately known to several activists in Quebec City for his pro-Le Pen and anti-feminist positions at Laval University and on social networks,” wrote the Bienvenue aux réfugié.es.

Childhood and Facebook friend, Vincent Boissoneault, a student in international relations at Laval University, said they frequently argued over politics when Mr. Bissonnette attacked refugees or expressed support for Ms. Le Pen or Mr. Trump.

Notably, that June following Le Pen’s visit, this same Mosque had a pig’s head gift wrapped with a card that read, ‘bon appétit’ left on their front doorstep.

Here, on January 30th, is the Canadian Prime Minister’s response to the terrorist attack on Canadian Citizens,

And here is the response from Canadians across Canada,

As of this article’s publishing, Trump and his administration have yet to speak again on this issue.

Muslims are not to be feared, as they see groups like “Islamic State” the same way Christians see the KKK.
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As stated by Kate Purchase, Muslims are the biggest victims of Islamic Extremists, so there is an invested interest in stopping them from within. In Canada, we have had an attempt at terrorism from Muslim Extremists foiled by a Muslim Leader,

Within a religious community, imams have kept an eye out for radicalization, “We would not hesitate at all in informing the agencies to do their part. As Canadians, we share the concerns. We are equally affected by any terrorism threats.” (April 22, 2013)

In the USA, you are not only more likely to be killed by US-born citizens with a gun, you are more at risk of being killed by a toddler than a Muslim.

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So, by reality, what is more deadly to American citizens is the sheer number of unregulated guns and gun ownership that has led to the real terrifying statistics of mass shootings seen no where else but the USA.

guns-ownership

Click Image To Interact With Map
Click Image To Interact With Map

With 2016 only continuing that trend, having more people killed in the United States in 2016 than in any year since Timothy McVeigh’s 1995 bombing of a government building in Oklahoma City.

And yet, unlike what the Republican Leaders have alluded to and what Trump claimed as justifications for harsh punishments, the USA Murder Rate is near it’s all time low.
murder-rate-usa
Meaning that USA citizens are overall less likely to murder each other, but the few that do are able to enact much more damage.

That people are more concerned about extremely rare attacks by foreign terrorists than these almost daily mass shootings by and toward Americans just boggles the mind.

Honestly, as a Canadian, the USA’s perspective on guns comes across as this weird, paranoid, masculine hyped fetish. I personally may not like guns, but its not like people can’t own and use guns in Canada, and a large portion of our population are gun owners too. But we see them as a recreation tool for hunting and target shooting – not self defense. And so we don’t see anything anywhere near what you get in the USA. Even while most illegal guns in Canada are trafficked from the USA.

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gun-kill-legal-vs-illegal

But if we are going to talk about tackling extremist ideologies that lead to terrorism on US soil, then the biggest current problem is Right-Wing Extremists.

Beyond what I have already written, as of six months ago, a study revealed that Islamic State (IS) is being outperformed in everything from follower counts to number of daily tweets by white nationalists and self-identified Nazi sympathizers on Twitter. Growing more than 600 per cent in the last four years.

Disturbingly, Not only has Donald Trump emboldened White Supremacists, but is putting even more legal favor for them.

“Three days after a white nationalist with an affinity for Trump killed six while shooting up a mosque in Canada, Reuters reports that the Trump administration wants a federal counter-terrorism program to stop focusing on violent white supremacists and any other extremist groups not comprised of Muslims.” – Source: Aaron Rupar / Think Progress, Trump wants less scrutiny on violent white supremacists

And this news has sent noticeable waves of glee through White Supremacist and Neo-Nazi social groups.

“It’s fair to say that if the Trump team is not listening to us directly (I assume they are), they are thinking along very similar lines. We helped get Trump get [sic] elected, and the fact of the matter is, without Alt-Right meme magick, it simply wouldn’t have happened,” the post continues. “This is absolutely a signal of favor to us.”

On February 15th, 29 year old, Benjamin McDowell, was arrested when he arranged to buy a gun and ammo to do a shooting ‘in the spirit of Dylann Roof’ – a white supremacist who shot and killed nine black churchgoers in a Charleston, S.C., church in 2015.

McDowell had known ties to white supremacist gangs from when he was in prison, and had been ranting online on his hatred of Jews and about his desire to commit an attack. Criticizing fellow white supremacists for their failure to take action, writing that they “ain’t got the heart to fight for Yahweh like dylann roof.”

The American Federal Government had made no comment on this arrest. Something that would have happened if the criminal were not a white American citizen, and would have been used to further justify severe measures the administration was planning. Just like what was attempted with the Mosque attack in Canada when the perpetrator was thought to be of Moroccan origin.

Canada is clearly not immune to this extremism. But it manifests differently here because we have laws against Hate Speech. Thus hate groups have greater difficulty to gather or promote their hatred. Something very different from what is happening in the United States where hate groups are instead protected by the police, because “Free Speech”.

Fascists & Neo-Nazis will hide behind Free Speech until they are in full control – loving the protection that allows them to breed Hate. While Black People, Muslims, Jews, and many others are experiencing Hate and Oppression directly from these groups, they are able to rely on their white privilege to protect them.

white-privilege
Seven leaders of an armed militia who led a 41-day stand-off at a US federal wildlife refuge in Oregon have been cleared of the charges. The Oceti Sakowin Camp is a historic gathering of tribes standing in solidarity to halt the Dakota Access Pipeline.

All the while it should be these Fascists and Neo-Nazis who are afraid to exist and afraid to say their words. Anti-fascists (Antifas) are the only ones who are forcing out the White Supremacists when the Police should be.

If the USA had Hate Speech be a crime like it is in Canada, Trump would not have had a chance to even campaign. Free Speech gave him that spotlight which was tacit permission for others who share the same harmful outlooks to not only come out, but act on it. In the USA, and across borders in Canada.

Image by Rua Lupa, February 12017 H.E.
Image by Rua Lupa, February 12017 H.E.

Based on history and what Holocaust Survivors have shared, it is past the point of words and only action is left – be it bureaucratic, court cases, marches, protests, sit-ins, or physical shutdowns of hate group gatherings.

Punching Nazis

After Donald Trump’s inauguration on January 20th, Spencer attended an Anti-Trump protest. While posing for a photograph at the corner of 14th and K Street around 2:30 p.m. he was punched twice by a masked protester. Later at the same protest, when he was speaking live to a reporter, he was once again punched in the face by the same protester. After that, while leaving the protest crowd, another individual spat on him.

This punch had drawn a lot of ire from the public, many stating that to punch someone, no matter what their views, makes you no better than them and also makes them a martyr.

Christina Hall writes, “Look the problem with these slippery slope fallacies (aka punching a nazi makes you no better than a nazi) is basically three fold as far as I can tell.

1. It implies there is an “equal” war of ideas. There is not. Believing genocide is a good thing is not equal to anything else. You can believe the sky is orange all you want but it is not equal to all of the evidence that points otherwise.

2. WWII was not won with hugs. White supremacy will not be beaten with hugs either. And demanding nonviolence from people currently getting oppressed with violence (people of color, lgbtqia people, other people nazis hate) is a really really solid form of tone policing. Fuck that.

3. Defending yourself, your family, and your community from nazi trash means a lot of things–not all of them physical violence. But ruling out violence completely by the slippery slope argument is a way to discredit a riot before it happens. It is a way to shift sympathy on individuals who have been oppressing others for years and paint the reactionary movements as being illegitimate before they even start. If a few nazis getting punched is a tragedy, what do you call 10 million+ people getting killed by nazis? Nothing. You don’t talk about THAT because if you did you wouldn’t be so morally opposed to a few people getting decked for saying that it wasn’t a tragedy at all but rather a glorious idea. (Or that it didn’t happen despite all those meticulous german records talking about how well their planned and deliberate genocide was going.)

I’m not sorry for wanting to punch a nazi. Nor am I sorry for being willing to punch a nazi. And should it happen and should I go to jail for assault I would still not be sorry because nazis are terrible human beings, and if I ruined at least one of their days on this earth it was worth it.”

thisiswhyitisokaytopunchnazisintheface
Photo of Birkenau (the extermination camp at Auschwitz) following the camp’s libera­tion on Janu­ary 27, 1945. In the fore­ground is the unloading ramp (the so-called Juden­rampe) and in the distance Birkenau’s main gate called the “Gate of Death.”
indiana-jones-punching-nazis
IMAGE SOURCE: (Film) Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Mother Jones Magazine, in ‘The Long History of “Nazi Punching” Wes Enzinna explains how Beating up Nazis is far from new.

The earliest recordings reveal the rise of an authoritarian movement that was inspired by Hitler, Mussolini, and Francisco Franco in Pre WWII Europe. In October 1936, London’s Jewish East End neighborhood witnessed 2,000 members of the British Union of Fascists march through their streets, and were met by 100,000 anti-fascists to oppose them. The melee included Jews, Irishmen, Communists, anarchists, and socialists, beating the Fascists with sticks, rocks, and sawed-off chair-legs. From overhead windows women dumped their chamber pots out of onto the Fascist’s heads. History recognizes this as the Battle of Cable Street.

In Minneapolis 1982, neo-Nazis started to appear in the city. In response, a street gang named the Baldies arose, adopting British punk fashion—bomber jackets, bald heads, boots and braces—and quite literally kicked the Nazis out of town.

In the years following, anti-fascist groups, such as Anti-Racist Action, Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice, and the Love and Rage Anarchist Federation advocated “direct action” against white supremacists. Ignoring legislative efforts in favor of physically preventing Nazis from organizing, distributing literature, and speaking in public. Their logic was that if a white-supremacist leader incited a hate crime, police couldn’t intervene until after a violent action occurred. And so Anti-fascists wouldn’t wait.

Modern groups appear ready to revive the direct-action tactics of the 1980s and ’90s in order to confront white supremacists emboldened by Trump. Such groups include the Redneck Revolt, John Brown Militia, and the Bastards Motorcycle Club. Anti-Racist Action’s 20 or so USA chapters have promised to contribute to direct-action tactics.

The day after the inauguration, ARA’s branch in Louisville, Kentucky, posted on their website:

“For decades, [white supremacists] were the face of the enemy and only a minute few dared show their true colors in public. This made them easy to dismiss, easy to ignore…However, recent events have proven that the fascist ideology has not only survived but thrived…Now, their labors of hatred have been rewarded with a sympathetic President-Elect and a federal Congress that is, at best, indifferent to their evil.

A warning to those who wish to destroy what we hold dear; We will resist you in the streets, in the poll booths and in the townhouses. Whether it’s in the bars, the concert halls, the conference centers or even City Hall, we will not allow a platform for your dangerous and divisive ideas. We will not allow history to repeat itself. We will shut you down everywhere you go. We will block your marches. We will interrupt your speeches. We will protest your legislation. We will be the thorn in your side. The glass in your bread. The pain in your ass.”



The reality is that punching Nazis works,

In the video titled “The assault on me”, [Richard Spencer] said he was left with a black eye on Saturday and was going to have to start considering “operational security”. He told viewers he was recording the video from what he called a “safe space”. “I was planning to go out tomorrow during the Women’s March to do some journalism but I can’t do that anymore,” Spencer told viewers. “I have reached a stage of being a public figure where I am going to be recognised and then be attacked.” 

Anti-Fascists were right in saying that beating up and kicking out white supremacists / neo-nazis makes them afraid to express their vitriol in public. Forcing them to hide their views and thereby preventing fascism from fully taking root.

Remember, Hitler came to power through a democratically elected government. And by that point the problem could not be solved with words.

captain-america-punch-nazis
Image Source Unknown – Would Love To Give Proper Credit!
captain-america-punching-hitler
IMAGE SOURCE: (film) Captain America: The First Avenger

LOOK FOR THE HELPERS
AND TOGETHER #RESIST

Good news is that people are not taking this laying down, having not hesitated and fought the moment anything arose.

One of Trump’s first orders was to silence public servants.

Which was promptly ignored and rebelled by the National Park Rangers,

bad-ass-landsnational-park-rangers-association-director-jon-jarvispng

And have effectively made alternative social media networks to continue their rebellion called Alt US National Park Service.
alt-national-park-service
This has led to other public servant branches to follow suit in making their own ‘Rogue’ social media accounts.

Along side public servant branches going rogue, Women’s March on Washington was organized for January 21, 2017 to “send a bold message to our new administration on their first day in office, and to the world that women’s rights are human rights”

When Trump signed his Deportation order on January 25th, quickly followed by the Muslim Ban on January 27th, U.S. attorney general Sally Yates was prompt to order justice department lawyers not to enforce the president’s executive order. “As long as I am the acting attorney general, the department of justice will not present arguments in defense of the Executive Order.” Within hours the White House responded with a statement that accused Yates of “betraying” the justice department and being “weak on borders”, and fired her.

Democratic Party leader Senator Chuck Schumer stated that the “attorney general should be loyal and pledge fidelity to the law, not the White House. The fact that this administration doesn’t understand that is chilling”.

Within the U.S. government, state department officials are resisting Trump’s ban with a roughly 1,000 signatured letter of dissent.

The public, like Sally Yates, was just as quick to take a stand.

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protests-at-airports-following-executive-travel-ban

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A rotating team of lawyers has remained at JFK Airport to help travelers caught in the crosshairs of President Trump’s ban on foreigners from seven Muslim majority countries. “We’re keeping the presence at all the different terminals,” Camille Mackler, director of legal initiatives at the New York Immigration Coalition, said Sunday night.

An emergency order was issued by federal Judge Robart that Saturday night, temporarily barring the U.S. from deporting people from nations subject to President Donald Trump’s travel ban, saying ‘travelers who had been detained had a strong argument that their legal rights had been violated.’

Early the following Sunday, a federal appeals court denied the Justice Department’s request for an immediate reinstatement of President Donald Trump’s ban.

Then on February 9th, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals panel unanimously upheld the restraining order blocking the federal government from enforcing the president’s controversial ban.

A more thorough timeline of legal events regarding the ban can be found here.
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Art work by @samscenarist
Art work by @samscenarist

One Justice Department employee tells The Washington Post, “You’re going to see the bureaucrats using time to their advantage,” adding that “people here will resist and push back against orders they find unconscionable,” by whistle-blowing, leaking to the press, and lodging internal complaints. Other state employees are keeping contact with President Obama’s appointed officials and attending workshops on how to effectively engage in civil disobedience, and learn more about how they can undermine Trump’s agenda.

When Obama’s previous assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor, Tom Malinow­ski, was asked how this compares to past administrations, he sarcastically replied, “Is it unusual? . . . There’s nothing unusual about the entire national security bureaucracy of the United States feeling like their commander in chief is a threat to U.S. national security. That happens all the time. It’s totally usual. Nothing to worry about.”

Yascha Mounk writes a fantastic list describing Five Things Americans Can Do to Beat Trump:

1) Do Not Normalize Trump’s Oppression,

2) Protest To Keep The Public Aware of Wrongs & To Put Pressure on Representatives,

3) Build Grassroots Infrastructure To Change The System,

4) Build Coalitions – We Are All In This Together. Break the ‘Us’ versus ‘Them’ mirage, and

5) Offer a Vision of a Better Future – Let that fan our passion, not Hate, not Fear.

As a democracy, many citizens have decided to get directly involved in politics and won. A few share some advice on how you can too.

Arnold Schwarzeneggar was a prime example of a citizen who wanted a government that was for the people, ran for the job and won. Now he is sharing how problems in his state were over come, and how other states can overcome them too.

The State of California’s leaders are not holding back and doing all in their power to resist. Here is state governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.’s speech on how California is not backing down in it’s combat against climate change in direct opposition to Republican policies.

Scientists generally stay off of the political stage, preferring to do their duty as public servants. But their ability to fulfill this duty has been intentionally sabotaged under the administration’s willful denial of hard science. And so, like their Canadian comrades have done before them, plan to join in the Marches. March For Science is planned for April 22.

As a Naturalist who volunteers to do public education about our wonderful cosmos, I felt the need to add my art to this particular March that people can freely utilize sans profit.

Fuck Yeah, SCIENCE!
March For Science Logo designed by Rua Lupa. Nonprofit use & Attribute.

And blessed be comedians and political artists who in their own way hold government officials accountable.

A particular favorite being Saturday Night Live’s Melissa McCarthy’s role as White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

And Full Frontal, with their reference points from those who have successfully snubbed Trump,

“The progressive liberal agenda isn’t about being nice. It’s about confronting evil, violence, trauma, and death. It’s about acknowledging the ways systemic power, systemic oppression, systemic evil, work in our world around us. I’m not fighting for diversity. I’m not fighting for tolerance. I’m fighting to overturn horrific systems of dehumanizing oppression.” – Tucker FitzGerald / Medium.com / Intolerant Liberals

Remember, for just his first month in office, Trump has the lowest approval ratings in US history, and more people show up to protest him than they did for his inauguration.

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approval_976

In sum, this whole fascist regime needs to be taken down as a whole – marking the entire current administration in both the White House and Congress as illegitimate because of the unconstitutional gerrymandering, voter suppression, and the electoral college. Make none of this administration’s actions legitimate in the eyes of the law and strike them down. All government orders and legislation should be frozen for the time being while the gerrymandering*, voter suppression, and electoral college has been washed through the courts, and then, and only then, redo the elections.


On parting, I will leave you with the inspiring words of Valarie Kaur,

December 20, 2016

As this is the time of year when we reach the climax of seasonal gift wrapping, I have decided to share some of my creative eco-friendly wrapping techniques – and there are really two primary methods to it.

1) Cloth Bag Wrapping, and
2) Paper & Paint Wrapping

Cloth wrapping is fabulous for its reusability, and paper wrapping is compostable.

CLOTH BAG GIFT WRAPPING

For cloth bag wrapping for the Winter Holidays I find a textile already seasonally patterned and purchase the amount I need.

Winter Gift Bags by Rua Lupa
Winter Holiday Gift Bags by Rua Lupa

Depending on if you want a large/medium/small bag, you can choose 4/2/1 meter(s) of cloth respectively. While you are in the fabric store do not forget to pick up some ribbons for tying up your bags just like Santa’s. For a tag I simply cut out a rectangle card stock and cut a slit to slide onto the ribbon.

*Fun Eco-Friendly Tip from Megan Manson at Patheos: Pagan Tama – Reuse old Holiday Cards as Tags!

Putting It Together

With the fabric, I have found the easiest pattern is a U-shaped bag. Whatever size you have chosen, cut two matching U-shaped pieces out of your cloth. Then place the patterned sides together. From here you can either:

– Pin them in place and machine sew the pieces together, or
– Hold the two pieces together and blanket stitch them together (ideal for beginners, especially if you don’t have a sewing machine)

Make sure to leave the top of the ‘U’ open. Once done the belly of the ‘U’, flip it inside out and either blanket stitch or hem the mouth of the bag.

Image by Penguin & Fish.
Image by Penguin & Fish.

All that is left is to place your gift(s) into the bag. Either one or two big gifts, or many small gifts per bag. Then slip the name tag onto the ribbon and tie off the top of the bag – And you are done!

I like to avoid and remove any shipping/display packaging from the gift before placing it in the bag. This is to avoid wasting resources and time on unwrapping and disposal on the holiday itself in order to spend more time with each other.

After it is unwrapped, remember to take it back home to reuse next year.

 

Furoshiki

Alternatively you can hem a sheet and wrap it like a regular paper wrap and tie it’s end’s together – also known as Furoshiki, which has a several methods to wrapping with cloth as shown below.

Cloth Wrapping Techniques

PAPER GIFT WRAPPING

Because some gifts are best left in the box they came in for transport, it’s ideal to simply paper wrap them. As a result, instead of buying predecorated rolls of wrapping paper, I like to use Kraft paper from the post office, and paper tape from Plastic-Free Life, wrapping like you would with normal wrapping paper. Then you can paint any way desired.

There are two primary ways you can paint – Solid background and foreground image, or stencils.

Rua Lupa's Tools For Gift Wrapping
Rua Lupa’s Tools For Gift Wrapping

Solid Background & Foreground

For the Solid Background & Foreground Image, I like to paint it black and flick white paint on it in a milky way pattern to celebrate Nox (The Longest Night). For name labels I simply cut out the name and lay it out so the ‘stars’ outline it.

Stencils

For the stencils, I use card stock or pieces of harder paper scrounged up from the recycling bin. Then I use an art scalpel to cut out the image I want. For stencil images I like to make ‘nature’ patterns – this year it was a pine tree sprig.

A helpful tip for painting with your stencil is to dab a bit of paint on your brush, dab once on scrap to remove excess, then dab the stencil for a clear image – brushing smudges your image.

*I have a stock pile of old paints I am working my way through and hope to eventually replace them with more eco-friendly options. I am currently studying paints via the SCA in order to find a simple solution. Which, I will get back to you when I’ve got something solid to share. If you have any recommendations, please comment below!

End Result

And here are this year’s results!

2016_12-Dec 093
Rua Lupa’s Winter Holiday Wrapping 12016 H.E.

That is all there is to it!

Hope you have yourself a Happy Holiday!

And a special Happy Solistice / Borealis Nox to my fellow Saegoahs!

 


For more fun and eco-friendly gift giving Ideas I highly recommend taking a look at – Simplify the Holidays.

 

December 16, 2016

If you have not found out yet, Patheos’ Atheist Channel has a new name – “Nonreligious”.

Patheos-Nonreligious-Atheist-Channel
Its a move with many good reasons, namely that those who are categorized as Irreligious, Unaffiliated or Non-religous in census studies are a growing portion of demographics all over the world, and many, if not most depending on where the census it taken, do not identify as Atheists. So this channel now has become a hub for that portion of our society that didn’t have a place to have a voice. Indeed this should have been available a long time ago. But this renaming is a bit wonky.

For one, Atheists who have found a home at the channel now feel like they are being delegitimized with the renaming – feeling that their hard fought status to be recognized is being lost.

Two, “non-religious” also includes theistic beliefs, which would probably be best served by the Spirituality Channel on Patheos already.

Three, religious Atheists (atheists who participate in non-theist ritual and ceremony) are now, more than before, excluded from conversation. I should know, I’m one of them. Having attempted to submit to the then Atheist channel and was rejected for having religious trappings. And because it was religious in nature it was assumed to have belief in the supernatural (in particular was the pointing out the use of crystals in the festivity – which was actually solely for the function of refracting light -SCIENCE!- It being a celebration of the longest day of the year after all).

This is where the Pagan Channel is invaluable. Its one of the best places for misfits like myself and others who are religiously inclined – especially when holding a nature based perspective. Besides, Paganism is also a worldview that is growing, along side the growth of Atheism and Non-religious worldviews.

In the end, this leads me to believe that the “Nonreligious” renaming of the Channel just maybe a proper fit after all, as I think it will continue the same path of hosting blogs that are clearly Atheistic – they are not going anywhere – and direct those who are spiritual or religious to either the Pagan or Spirituality Channel as they have before, and the change is simply that they are going to host more agnostic and secular blogs in general.

August 10, 2016

I live fairly remotely – Literally on an island (the big one that sits along the north shore of Lake Huron… yeah, that one).

 Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC

Credit: Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Rapid Response Team, NASA/GSFC

So, as a Pagan, I don’t have much in the way of comradery in terms of my Nature-Based worldview here, being used to doing my own thing, and am delighted when I cross paths with other Pagans, but it can get awkward real quick. We obviously share a lot of the same outlooks to be sure – We are obviously aware of the current lunar phase, the seasonal occurrences and wildlife of the area, are feminists, human rights advocates, and do strive for a more eco-friendly way of life, but that is where the similarities tend to end.

Many continue the conversation assuming that I believe in supernatural beings, like spirits in the rocks, air, rivers, etc. and deities; that the Earth, Moon, Sun, Stars, are beings that care about you; that I follow the Celtic ‘Wheel of the Year’; practice magic/majick; read tarot/divination cards; and perform ceremonies that involve enchanting a circle, the elements in specific directions, and going clockwise. Mistaken on all accounts. But its an understandable one, as most Pagans do associate with these things and the conversations would naturally go along how their beliefs differ in each – something I enjoy listening in on. But for me, its often a smile and nod in response unless asked directly what I believe, and then I struggle with how to best respond because I don’t want to discourage people in their spiritual pursuits, I just hope people actively explore all their options to figure out what works best for them. For me, that just happened to end up being atheism (more specifically Naturalism – a form of atheism, “Any of several philosophical stances wherein all phenomena or hypotheses commonly labeled as supernatural are either false or not inherently different from natural phenomena or hypotheses.”) – something that some find off putting and often struggle with trying to find how I can be an atheist, while obviously quite Pagan still.

Pencil Drawing By Rua Lupa
Pencil Drawing By Rua Lupa

Many try to convince me that I do believe in these things and that I’m just in denial – which is the most annoying response I get that I try to patiently explain that I really, truly, don’t believe in incorporeal spirits, spirits in non-living things, a soul, an afterlife, or deities (and its just as bad with liberal Christians). I don’t even like referencing them in metaphor, feeling like that’d be a disingenuous thing to do and in that way am respecting those who genuinely do believe in their existence. And besides, why bother if I actually don’t believe in them and personally, believing I am better off looking for other, newer ways of doing things rather than trying to alter ceremonies that were obviously designed around believing in them in the first place. I mean, they’re great sources of inspiration, but I don’t need to do the same things to be a Pagan.

What I Do Believe About This…

Now I am sure those reading this are questioning what I do believe with regards to spirits, celestial bodies, the Celtic Wheel of the Year, magic, divination, ceremonies – circle casting, elements, and directions therein.

Spirits

When it comes to ‘spirits’ I tend to avoid that word all together because of their common associations with the incorporeal or animism, but when pressed (usually when people insist I’m spiritual, though I don’t believe I can associate with that label specifically) I can only say that I regard spirits as living beings – simply breathing and alive (like what the origin of the word means), with no separation of the body such as a soul/incorporeal spirit. That death is the end of that being, but what makes up that being gets broken down and becomes incorporated into other beings – without memory. And that is something we can embrace and celebrate instead of fear.

Image Source Tumblr, Credit: Alpenstrasse http://alpenstrasse.tumblr.com/post/28516168423
Image Source Tumblr, Credit: Alpenstrasse http://alpenstrasse.tumblr.com/post/28516168423

 

Image Source: Wayfair
Image Source: Wayfair

Outside of that I don’t believe in spirits. When I have space to do so, I do plan on having ‘Spirit Houses’ throughout my property for various spirits – not entirely unlike Shinto Spirit Houses, just designed to suit the physical creatures instead. And instead of worshiping said spirit or touting supposed symbolisms, it would be designed to be oriented to maximize opportunities to learn from that spirit, becoming better able to coexist as fellow spirits sharing the same space in our little region on earth.  Something that appeals to me greatly as a Saegoah (someone who follows the Saegoah’s Three Basic Tenets – “Through Nature fulfillment can be found”, “Nature, being inseparable from human existence, is important in human pursuits”, “As humans are a part of Nature it is important to ensure our connections within it are harmonious.” In other words, a Seeker of Ehoah – A Seeker of ‘Complete Harmony within Nature’).

Wheel of the Year

The Celtic Wheel of The Year simply doesn’t jive with me as it really doesn’t line up with what is actually going on with where I live, and frankly where most people live outside of the United Kingdom and Ireland. To that end I actually invented an entirely new calendar that works for both hemispheres and bioregions – a perpetual calendar that draws connections to the solar-earth changes in a relatable way.

Year Wheels SEASONAL Kalendar

Divination

Divination Reading – A Big Ol’ Nope! I personally don’t like them because regardless on what you think about them – be it real or a game – the results influence how you consider your actions for the next while and I much prefer to consider each of my actions independently from divination readings, and I don’t like how people get all bent out of shape over them when they do believe in them. To me tarot cards are simply just cards that have no divination power and only ‘work’ because they are vague enough to apply to a whole slew of situations, and the vast majority of divination approaches are just as vague. But I do really like the artwork and like to contemplate the symbolism.

 

Magic

Chalice In The Trees. Image Credit: Rua Lupa
Chalice In The Trees. Image Credit: Rua Lupa

Magic? Not so much – I really don’t believe you can influence the physical world with magic i.e. changing weather, causing a difference in a very distant place or time, summoning, or altering the physical makeup of something – unless we’re strictly talking about chemistry. Although I do believe that ritual and ceremonies can psychologically influence the people involved in a beneficial way and do like to study rituals and ceremonies for that purpose and use that knowledge to help create ceremonies and rituals for myself (this Libation ritual being one such example)

 

 

Circle Casting & Celestial Deities

As I don’t believe in incorporeal spirits or deities, casting a circle makes no logic to me, let alone that I don’t like how it gives the sense that we can somehow separate ourselves from Nature when we’re never separate. I guess that is why I don’t like the idea of magic, as it comes across as anthropocentric in the belief that humans can somehow control Nature to our will. This is where I accept how Nature isn’t something we can really control – physically influence yes – but not able to fully control, and that Nature is indifferent. And in relation to that, I don’t believe the Earth, Moon, Sun, Stars, are beings that care about you – we are connected to them chemically and atomically, which is really cool in itself that we can learn a lot from, but not much more than that.
WeAreAllConnected

Instead of being Earth-Centered I’m more Solar-Earth Centered. I see our host star as the main focus that our planet is dependent on for our well being.

So the relation between the sun and earth is part of the foundation of my ceremonies rather than just the earth, as such I don’t go clockwise / the direction the sun appears to go in, because in reality its the earth that is moving not our host star for our days and nights. In response to that I move the direction the earth is spinning instead to get a better sense of connection on how our planet functions, and thus a better sense of connection with our seasons – because the relation between the earth and sun is what causes our seasons.
Solterrestriale Vocabulum (Solar-Earth Terms) Brief

As for the elements and directions, I never really understood why the typical Pagan directions are the way they are and opted for making something more universal as a result. Air / Sky is Pole oriented, Earth is Equatorially oriented, Fire is East – where we first see the sun at dawn (our source of energy, and thus fire), and Water is West – where we last see the sun at dusk (fire seemingly doused).
Novemmorium-Final-Version-w-Charts-Borealis-GIF1

Sasuke Inari shrine, Japan. Original Source Unknown.
Sasuke Inari shrine, Japan. Original Source Unknown.

I like Shrines, and I find that they can work for me too and plan on making a pocket one for myself. How shrines can work for me is as places for meditative contemplation on the theme or subject it represents and what I can do to make my tangible relationship(s) with it/them better. For my pocket shrine, I plan on having it based on symbolism of Solar-Earth Life, the life cycle  therein and permaculture (I will be writing more on the pocket shrine at a later time – and its one of the reasons why I haven’t been writing as much here for the last while). With that symbolic imagery and written Saegoah Teachings, I’ll have native seeds for rejuvenating land that could use it, hand woven gauze/fire starter, and homemade medicinal salve. If anyone reading this has made their own pocket shrine I’d love to hear about it!

Conclusion

In my experience, Pagans are the most welcoming of non-mainstream beliefs, but even so there tends to be a distance between me and other Pagans because my beliefs make people uncomfortable, as if that to acknowledge it as a legitimate belief is somehow detrimental to their own. I really don’t mind other beliefs, just don’t expect me to agree with you in everything, that’s all. In fact, I enjoy discussing the philosophies of all beliefs – the why’s and how’s of beliefs, without condemnation. Something I do with one friend a lot, who is a Christian Minister (who likes to study the Old Norse and Celtic Religions), and we both enjoy those discussions. I have all sorts of close friends with a whole spectrum of beliefs and we don’t have to agree on everything to get along and have a grand ol’ time. And it saddens me that being an atheist creates a rift with people that I’d really like to be able to make friends with, or simply be jolly acquaintances (because realistically, you can’t be close friends with everyone you meet). So all I ask is for those who would find themselves creating a distance with those who are atheistic because of a difference in belief, please accept our differences as simply personal outlooks that need not interfere with a possible good friendship, as the world is made a better place when there are more friends in it.

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March 30, 2016

Mr. Stubborn by Percyfan94

I’ve encountered many a time when talking about learning different traditions and their stories the reaction of, “Its none of your business” and, “I don’t need to know what they believe”, each of these reactions are not shared by all members of their respective culture, but such sentiments are fairly common.

To this I feel taken aback and wonder at why people feel that way. Understandably minority cultures don’t want to have non-members taking their teachings and making it be marketed and mocked, in the process becoming devalued and cheapened, and eventually the mainstream culture believes that this is the way that that minority culture is. Circling back to naïve individuals from outside who wish to follow those teachings based upon the sullied version they’ve seen in the mainstream, who end up perpetuating these falsehoods and essentially are incredibly insulting to that very culture they likely genuinely would like to respect.

Image Source: http://theodysseyonline.com
Image Source: http://theodysseyonline.com

Mystery traditions share similar outcomes, wherein information is intentionally withheld and only revealed to the initiated and often more information comes with entering higher orders within the tradition, if they have them. So people from the outside are left to only guess, and often speculate wildly which, with nothing to counter these speculations, often becomes accepted as the truth and sticks to that tradition. Being very hard to remove these speculations from being associated with that tradition afterwords.

Witch_What_-_Thinks-I-Do

In both cases the conundrum goes back to how it all started – misinformation from the very beginning. And the only way such misinformation can be dispelled is by countering it with proper information – primarily from the community or spiritual leaders, but especially from journalists within.

Now, when it comes to Mystery traditions I can see how that defeats the point. But there certainly are ways to prevent this misinformation, such as showing the theme of the teachings for each category or order within the tradition – which itself would remove a lot of speculation problems. And of course just showing the point of the tradition itself to begin with – why does this tradition exist? There are already Mystery Traditions that talk to the public about these things and has helped more people reach an understanding – Wicca being a prominent one, with public outreach, such as being part of Pagan Pride Day.

PatheosNoImageHaving media outlets that are controlled by the source, such as podcasts and blog sites, increased the dispersal of accurate information that successfully counter misinformation and continues to prevent new misinformation from arising – because people finally have a primary source to refer to answer questions.

Even if we were to have all the information about these traditions and cultures be public – why bother learning them in the first place? Well, because they are part of our human story. No tradition or culture exists in isolation as they constantly influence each other all the time, so there is no point in acting like they do.

Anybody who has studied human history can attest to how cultures arise because of outside influence. The core of these cultures usually being a response to their environment, seeing cultural shifts when the environment changes – which can be summed up as a depletion or new found/arrival of resources. But for a full understanding I’ll provide a brief rundown.

How Cultures Arise From Their Environment:

Water: Determining the establishment of or relocation of settlements, or possibly innovation to continue to secure water source

Springs, Wells, Lakes, and Glaciers for water source – losing water when glacier completely melts, or when lakes fill in from ecological succession;

Larger Lakes and Rivers for drinking source and travel routes;

Deforestation leading Desertification from climate change (historically this was over geologic time instead of the rapid change we are seeing in our time – prepare for our own cultural shift!) or from over harvesting (be it logging, grazing, or crops);

Oasis discovered, creating new settlement and travel routes;

Humidity Levels – low humidity creating arid landscapes and high humidity creating tropical landscapes. Each having cultural adaptations for the different resulting weather.

Reforestation (historically from climate change – e.x. Deglaciation or Wind Current Shift bringing in moisture, again over geologic time; Migration of new plant species, often labeled today as ‘invasive’, and ecological succession into over harvested areas) with these new forests acting like a sponge, creating new springs, lakes, and recharging rivers that renews or draws in completely new occupation of the area.

 

Land:  Either losing or gaining land for settlements and travel routes, sometimes isolating populations;

Sea level changes, Glaciers – encroaching on land/changing land shape, and thus changing access to area as it grows or melts – flooding land as it melts; Changes in river direction or volume, and flood plains.

 

Daylight: More daylight hours year round = higher temperatures; Less daylight hours year round = lower temperatures. Much the same occurs with altitude. Each having cultural adaptations in response to this.

 

Wildlife: Adapting to the behavior of wildlife in region and the kind resources that can be extracted from them. As well as their abundance or lack thereof for food and resources. Big cultural shifts resulting from new species migrating in or a species going extinct.

 

Domestication: Other species from immediate environment brought into cultural use and bred for traits that were desired for that culture – their utility depending on their needs as a reflection of their environment.

 

Minerals: Discovery of, then mined out. Completely altering the economy and society. i.e. Bronze and Iron Age; Mining towns to ghost towns.

 

Energy: The more power available the more resources can be harvested and manipulated into desired uses.

Hydro Power (waterwheels, dams);

Wind Power (sails, wind pumps, wind turbines);

Coal (steam engine) and Petroleum (combustion engine) – Both being byproducts of,

Solar Power (biological thermodynamics, fire, solar panels)*

Major cultural shifts when these energy sources are found or enhanced, or when the energy source is depleted (Petroleum is today’s major energy source that could run out in our lifetimes and cause a drastic cultural shift).

*Conventional wisdom states that solar power is the conversion of light into electricity, but that is ignoring a major portion of what the sun provides energy to – plants harvest the Sun‘s energy and store it in their structure which gets consumed by animals, moving that energy up the food chain. Fire is the releasing of that stored energy.

skin-color-world-map

Nothing else really captures how our environment influences our culture better than the “Human Planetdocumentary series by the BBC.

Screenshots from the BBC Human Planet documentary series.
Screenshots from the BBC Human Planet documentary series.

Closely followed by, ‘How The Earth Changed History‘ (‘How Earth Made Us’ – original title), again by the BBC, hosted by Iain Stewart.

But, the biggest catalyst to cultural development is when there is contact between different cultures – unsurprisingly, usually through Trade – bringing in new ideas and material goods that arose from their respective environments. Such as the introduction of new domestic species into a region, bringing in new resources, and the new domestic species altering the landscape.

What ever their environment has abundance of is sold and whatever their environment has little of is bought from the other culture. Through this contact there is a sudden surge of creative expression and invention. Most of humanity’s greatest inventions arose directly from major trading centers – where new ideas were welcomed because it helped their people prosper.

Our species in today’s time has in no other time before had so much information at it’s finger tips. And all this information is a culmination of the information already previously shared and developed by the people before us. And again, primarily those from our central trade areas. We stand on a mountain of knowledge that was built up, stone by stone, of what those before us had shared from their various cultures.

Our numbers – Hindu–Arabic. Our Letters – Roman. Our Maths – Babylonian and Egyptian. Our paper – Chinese. Our Glass – Syrian, Mesopotamian and ancient Egyptian. Our Silk – Chinese. Our Cotton – Pakistan and northwestern Indian. Our Vanilla – Mexican. Our Cocoa (aka chocolate) – Colombian and Venezuelan. Our Tea – Chinese. A lot of things we take for granted in our daily lives is the result of the sharing of our cultural goods. We’d all be poorer without that.

Image Source: http://www.silkroadencyclopedia.com/
Image Source: http://www.silkroadencyclopedia.com/

Throughout history, there has been no single culture that has stayed “pure” nor will there ever be such a culture, and it is willful ignorance to believe so. So it is counter productive to try to prevent cultural mixing.To take the time to learn about the cultures and stories of cultures other than your own is to respect our shared humanity and earth and to continue in that shared story and home. To ignore the various cultures around us is to ignore our humanity. And to the greatest extent – it causes wars.

This is why I am taken aback by the reactions I started this writing with. By choosing to be willfully ignorant of other cultures enables the inevitability of misunderstandings, which leads to stereotyping, which leads to racism, which can lead to systemic racism and genocides.

genocide

History shows this time and time again. And we shouldn’t allow this part of our history to repeat itself. That is why I am a strong advocate of mandatory world religions and world history classes in our education system. If done right, it can open our understanding of our shared humanity. People are people are people. And as I’ve pointed out earlier, our differences are simply a reflection of where we lived. And because we are now a global economy, we are now more than ever before able to have contact with cultures from all the environments our planet has to offer.  But, this opportunity to share and innovate for the betterment of all is squandered by our willful ignorance of the cultures of our fellow humans.

Now, I am not saying that all cultures should be regarded as wholly good. All cultures always have room for improvement, and the way we can improve is by sharing what each has learned on what helps people prosper. But in order to move forward we must acknowledge that we’ve all made failures.

A particular failure is with “progress”, as progress doesn’t always mean the same thing to everybody. Most of the time when “progress” is touted it willfully dismisses other cultures as being “backward” and that their own is best. Sadly this disregards the wisdom of how to live with respect to the local environment. Leading to structures that originally came from different climates being plopped down in an environment it is not suited for, making things worse. So no, I am not advocating for progress but for open engagement with one another in a respectful way, in mutual aid.

Image by survivalinternational.org – Image Source: http://www.survivalinternational.org/progresscankill

Its one thing to share and trade, but its a whole other thing if a culture pressures other cultures into becoming like their own. As we’ve seen in history and in our current time, and more than likely in our future, when this is done it causes conflict in which the forced culture logically doesn’t trust the domineering one. And the domineering one, being willfully ignorant of the worldviews of the minority culture, is distrustful of it because it doesn’t understand it – stereotyping the elements that their culture finds uncouth through that misunderstanding.

If left without making amends, this distrust can fester and breed an ideology of hate from both sides, feeding into a call to force the culture that has affronted them to their knees. This kind of reaction is one of a neglected relationship with the sense of no way out. In other words, to suppress the moderate is to feed the extreme. Just because one culture may not agree with the views of the other, doesn’t mean that the other culture’s right to practice their beliefs should be denied. When this basic right is denied, the worst form of its expression is developed instead as a response against an opposing force – be it actual or perceived. “We cannot make a living because of how we look”, “They are hurting our family values.”

But it is just as bad if a culture isolates itself. This goes back to what I talked about earlier – misinformation causing strife. When a culture refuses to engage with other cultures, it leaves other cultures in the dark, wondering if this culture would be beneficial or detrimental to theirs. And the same thing happens to those in isolation. Misinformation leads to Misunderstandings, and Misunderstandings leads to Distrust, and Distrust leads to Violence.

Now, some reading this may think I am talking about a particular culture(s). I am not. Virtually all cultures past and present have had this ugly side manifest itself. And if you don’t believe me, take the time to study the history of each culture, I’m sure you’ll change your mind.

But, even with such a turbulent shared history, we’ve some how managed to succeed in reaching out to each other all over the world. We can instantly share pictures on mobile devices that some how universally speak past cultural differences and reach a common shared emotion.

A door in Germany breaks down and internet culture spills over into the real world - This is the result after three days...
A door in Germany breaks down and internet culture spills over into the real world – This is the result after three days…

funny-cat-meme1

We are a human family, and like any family, we have our quirky differences that the other siblings find odd, and sometimes even off-putting, but we are still family and share common interests. We all want a good life and when one of us stumbles into hard times, the rest of our family is eager to pick them up. Even if the sibling insists that they are fine and capable on their own. That is the side of humanity I see when natural disasters strike – everyone rushes to send aid as best as they are able. As a species, we obviously care for one another.

Unfortunately events of recent times, stemming from conflicts in Syria, have fed into distrust, and thus fear, and thus hatred, and sadly violence. All because of the breeding mistrust through its government practices. We tend to think that that sort of thing is from else where, not like us. But that is sadly a view held by those who are privileged in their respective society. Systemic racism is common in the vast majority of places on earth still.

The Black Lives Matter movement is a response to that in North America, First Nations / Native Americans are in the same situation. The equivalent in Europe is with the Romani, and in Australia, the Aborigine.

There have been some improvements but it isn’t enough. Until we share the same access and same rights, more work needs to be done. Otherwise, what has happened in Syria, can happen here. Likely not in the same extent because how much of an unbalance there is in terms of resources to stand up against atrocities committed – and how much those from outside are willing to supply such a conflict. Which when you look at it closely, is incredibly hypocritical, as the Syrian conflict was supplied by American interests.

Any civil minded person just wants the violence to stop, and wants every child, from every background, an opportunity for a good life. If you find yourself getting riled up and demanding sanctions against cultures other than your own – ask yourself where that is coming from? I can guarantee it is from mistrust. For that I prescribe a healthy dose of cultural education – learn the history of that culture, and mentally place yourself in their situation. Imagine yourself born in that place and time, would you behave any differently? I guarantee you that it isn’t the culture but the circumstance.

People are people are people. We all share the same basic desire, and it is up to each of us to look for that common ground and build bridges, not war. Every person born into this world deserves a chance at a good life. And if their life has led to an adulthood of destruction – seek out its origin and help that person heal from the wounds of broken relationships. You do not get to Peace with violence. You get to Peace with Peace. As Violence only begets more Violence.

You will find that the most peaceful places are the places that don’t condone violence to reach an end. The most peaceful places are the places that pick each other up and love each other for our differences.

All humanity are my brothers and sisters, and if one of my siblings is hurting another, then as a family we aught to together condemn that behavior and set the quarreling sibling right – not through isolating them from the rest of the family, like what prison does – which breeds bitterness and resentment, but by making amends. By giving opportunity for recompense, and by supporting (what my Anishinaabe side refers to as) a healing journey. That is why I like to think of “making amends” as “mend the wound.”

What our differences are pale in comparison to our similarities. That is what we should have in mind when we encounter one of our differences. The more we learn about our differences the more we see our commonalities. And with that the more capable we are to understand and thus help one another. That is why we should all take the time to learn each culture’s stories, because they are part of Our Human Story.

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