Archive for 2006

The Insurgent Mind

Wednesday, December 20th, 2006

Ever wonder what is going on inside the minds of the Iraqi insurgents… the ones who use guerrilla tactics against the American soldiers?

Well, apart from having different cultures and religions, the people in Iraq are pretty much like everyone else… just like me and you. Therefore, to see inside the insurgent mind, all we have to do is ask ourselves what we would do in their situation.

Just imagine what you would do if your own city were to become occupied by the soldiers of a foreign power that was intent on enforcing their way of life upon you. Would you go down without putting up some kind of fight?

While we may not condone the use of violence, it is easy to see why one would at least want to put up some kind of a fight. Furthermore, as one is surrounded by increasing chaos, so too grows the likelihood of resorting to the use of violence.

Even if this foreign power could somehow provide a better way of life, most people would stop listening the instant a fellow citizen was killed in the streets. And from there on, the liberators become the enemy, and the invaders lose all hope of instilling order (if that was indeed their goal).

So, even without having the distinct cultures within Iraq (that are now engaged in a civil war), the invasion would have been unlikely to succeed because humans are not easily forced into changing, unless they are willing to change to begin with.

Kick-Ass Korten

Thursday, December 14th, 2006

In October 2006, David Korten gave a speech to the Veterans for Peace called “The Great Turning”, derived from his book of the same name. This lecture is full of insights about the plight of humans today, as well as the options we can take to alleviate some of the problems that plague our world.

The “great turning” refers to what Korten predicts will be the collapse of the current empire of (mostly American) corporations and military, and how it will be replaced by an establishment of a global community, based on egalitarian, locally based economies. Heres a few paraphrased points that he makes:

  • We should stop wasting our resources and our lives on warfare and the quest for global dominance and instead work towards making the world a better place for ourselves and our children.
  • The U.S. is not a real democracy… the entire system is a farce designed by rich, white slave-keeping land-owners who wanted to secure their position. If the American people want democracy, they will need to take their political system to a place it has never been before.
  • The U.S. military has consistently been used to protect or advance commercial interests unrelated to the security of the U.S.
  • Violence and greed in adults are pathological disorders caused by Imperialist cultures and institutions. And those who exhibit these behaviours the most are rewarded with power, and this only serves to perpetuate the myth that these traits are divine.
  • He mentions how the perceived necessity of economic inequality, the required use of oppressive force, and the righteousness of those in power are all fabricated myths instilled into society to perpetuate the status quo.

The solutions he suggests are:

  • Speak out against the injustices… speak the truth about the fabricated myths, and break the cycle of indoctrination and imperialism.
  • Realize that despite the U.S. being polarized politically, the majority of Americans share key values, and that the U.S. is indeed a nation that shares the same goals.
  • We have the power. We are the generation we have been waiting for.

I feel that many of the ideas he presents are worthy of repeating to a wider audience, so I took the liberty of taking some prime sound clips and splicing them together with some visuals. Here is the final product:

The original 27 minute lecture can be found by clicking here.

May the Swartz be with you

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006

Jeffrey Swartz, CEO of Timberland & environmental activist, while on the Colbert Report said a few things I found to be quite refreshing to hear from the head of a billion dollar corporation.

On the free market:

“I have a deep respect for the free market. The free market is one of the most creative forces that exists anywhere in the world, and in this great democracy, there is nothing more powerful than the free market. But the free market can be part of a solution that is broader than just delivering this quarter’s earnings.”

On making profit:

“[I care about making profit], but that’s not the only expectation for a CEO these days. I am absolutely convinced, and I am not the only one in the fortune 1000, that believe that commerce and justice don’t have to be two different ideas. That you can make a living, that you can create wealth for your shareholders, and you can have a positive social impact. You can be responsible for the way you run your business. You don’t need to [exploit] the environment.”

He also speaks of being carbon neutral, of taking responsibility for your environmental footprint, for renewable energy, for reducing consumption, and for employee friendly policies. He says that you can do all of this, an more, and still be profitable.

Heres a clip from the show:

Silence is Consent

Sunday, December 3rd, 2006

Those of us who do not speak out against the stripping of civil liberties empower those who are taking away our rights.

Those of us who do not discuss the unjust distribution of wealth are allowing billions to live in extreme poverty.

Those of us who do not look critically at our political system and our politicians are perpetuating corruption in the government.

Those of us who do not actively seek peace, either inner peace or world peace, are contributing to war on earth.

When it comes to anything wrong in the world that we have the power to change: those of use who do not actively voice our opinions, those of us who are too scared or too content to speak out…. we are the ones responsible for all that continues to be wrong in the world.

Inaction is consent. Fear is consent. Ignorance is consent. Silence is consent.

We all have a choice to make the world a better place. If we do not choose to act, then we are choosing to be part of the problem.

The Future of Food

Sunday, November 26th, 2006

The 2006 documentary The Future of Food investigates the potential risks of new technologies being used in the food industry, as well as the growing dangers of corporately owned life.

Genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) are forms of life that have undergone genetic transformations by human interventions. Most often, the motivation behind modifying an organisms gene’s is to get some new function from the organism that it didn’t previously exhibit, like having a mouse glow in the dark, or designing a more resilient strain of canola.

While there are many benefits of GMO’s, like increased crop yield, and new ways to create medicines, this film covers the negative impacts of genetically altering life.

GMO’s are relatively untested on humans, and when genes are mixed and matched the risks of unforeseen allergic reactions increases. Even more dangerous is the fact that once a genetically modified organism is released into the environment, it is essentially uncontrollable, and the long term impacts of GMO’s on our world is unknown.

Equally frightening is how large corporations like Monsanto are patenting life, claiming genes as being corporate property, and how they use their patents to sue farmers whose fields have been invaded by GMO plants. Even worse, is how Monsanto is spreading their seeds around the world (to 3rd world countries) at a discounted rate, so that the plants that they own invade every ecosystem on earth. The potential ramifications of one single organization owning all of the staple crops everywhere are scary.

The Future of Food is an eye-opening think piece, even if it only presents one side of the debate. A copy can be found on Google Video by clicking here.

Bush was Right: Mission Accomplished!

Monday, November 20th, 2006

Channel 4 Dispatches’ special The Death Squads talks about the uprising of sectarian violence in Iraq, especially in Baghdad, where countless Sunni’s are being executed by Shi’ite militia groups… militia groups who are part of the new Iraqi police force. Iraq is a real mess, and things are likely to get worse before they get better.

And in Afghanistan, things are not much better. Five years after the US invasion, peacekeeping forces are over-stretched and under fire, hundreds of schools have been closed by a resurgent Taliban, and the opium trade is booming. Bin Laden was never caught… and the war on terror has only stirred up more anti-American sentiment in many parts of the world.

The world is less safe now… the US foreign policy has done a disservice to the well being of the US population, and the population of the world. Given the worsened conditions in many parts of Afghanistan and Iraq since their respective invasions, it is no wonder than an increasing number of people are looking at both wars as failures.

But I cannot help but feel that this is exactly what those in charge wanted to happen. Certain members of the Bush administration (Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz), as well as the shareholders of corporations that profit from billion dollar defense contracts, desire more war. Increased insecurity in the middle east is exactly what warmongers want, because to them, it means more instability in the world, and therefore, more business and more profits.

Similar to how corporations, like fast-food or clothing companies, target children with their brands in order to manufacture the next generation of consumers, so too does the military industrial complex seek to perpetuate its own mechanisms for survival. The war machine feeds off war… and it sows the seeds of war today so that it has more blood to reap in the future.

If there is any good to come from the devastation, wasted resources, and countless innocents slaughtered, it should be a lesson we can all learn. The lesson being that war doesn’t work to solve problems… war only creates more problems. If we want to make the world a better place, we need to find better alternatives than trying to install freedom via the barrel of a gun.

Remember: Anything that war can do, peace can do better.

Be Optimistic because LIFE IS AWESOME!

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

Having fear and doubt is a natural part of human existence… these things exist inside nearly everyone. But it is possible to train yourself to be confident and successful despite having fear and insecurity. If we’ve never before been trained in the art of positive thinking, it can take time for us to master it, but anyone can do it… we all have the ability to harness the power of optimism. And even if it takes several years to master being optimistic, any effort we put towards being positive now makes it easier to be positive in the future.

Part of thinking positive is to practice entering confident and optimistic states of mind. One technique I like to use is to think about motivational thoughts and ideas. Ideas like the Power of Positive thinking, which says that thinking good, optimistic thoughts is often enough to make good things happen. And other ideas like The Law of Attraction, which claims that the universe will provide you with what you wish for if you believe it, visualize it and feel it happening. Also, there’s Deepak Chopra’s Law Pure Potentiality that says we can use our minds to create what we want out of our own existence.

While I am practicing entering confident and optimistic states of mind, I like to re-iterate simple phrases like “Good things are going to happen”, or “No doubt it’s OK!”, or “All you can ever do is just be yourself” or “Yes, you are good enough” (or even better “Yes, you will succeed”), and other such similar phrases.

Then, when I come upon stressful situations, or when I feel in doubt, or insecure, or inadequate, I remind myself of one or more of my sayings… and as I conjure up those phrases, I simultaneously (and almost automatically) conjure up the positive and optimistic state of mind I was in while thinking those thoughts. Confidence training makes it easier for me to remain strong in the face of adversity.

Often, we may feel like we are being judged, by others or by society in general. But worrying about what others think is really an extension of us judging ourselves. If we judge ourselves as worthy, then we need not worry about what others think of us… for they will see that we – the one who knows ourselves the best – have already judged and deemed ourselves worthy. And even if others don’t like us, it doesn’t matter, because we like ourselves.

Judging ourselves as being worthy of whatever we desire, combined with being strong, confident and optimistic, makes it easier to attain success in whatever goals we set for ourselves. The more we practice being confident and optimistic, the more we will be confident and optimistic during even the most trying of times.

This will allow us to be happy in life, to enjoy life, and to get the most out of each and every day. And this is important, because LIFE IS AWESOME!

Fast Food Nation

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

I just saw a screening of the movie Fast Food Nation, and if I had to describe it as if it were on a fast food menu, it would be “An eye-opening feast of dissent sprinkled with celebrity cameos, all neatly packaged into several intertwined stories full of compelling characters.”

The film presents many dissenting ideas pertaining to things like mass meat production, contaminated food, artificial flavouring, animal cruelty, pollution, and many other things related the industrial corporate food machine. If someone hasn’t seen or heard ideas like those presented in the film, then the whole 2 hours may be an unpleasant shock.

I cannot believe that Fox, of all companies, was behind this. I guess the corporate machine can even profit off criticism of corporate machines. I suppose it is inevitable… the growing problems of modern consumer culture must surely be creating a growing market of dissent that can be tapped into.

George Carlin on America

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

The brilliant George Carlin sums up in a short clip much of what is wrong with the American system, and why regular Americans are suffering. Every patriotic American should watch this clip and try to really understand what it means, and then encourage others to do the same.

(Note: He uses vulgar language, and the good stuff is in the first 7 minutes of the clip. The second half of the clip he does a bit about mass suicide, which detracts from the genius he puts forth in the first part.)

Click here to see the video if it doesn’t show up below

One Big Mob

Sunday, November 5th, 2006

We are all one big family, whether someone chooses to see it or not. We are all connected. The suffering of others is our own suffering, even if we choose to ignore it or rationalize it as not our fault.

When people are suffering and we have the power to prevent it, it is our responsibility. It is your responsibility, my responsibility, and the responsibility of anyone with the power to help. We should be doing what we can to help them.

Its just that too many people in the wealthy nations are content… content to live selfish, indulgent lives, buying what everyone else buys (and what they are told to buy) and living how everyone else around them lives, like mindless sheeple. All the while a lot of the world suffers.

It is bullshit. Just because we have the luxury of ignoring the realities of the world, doesn’t mean we should.

What can most people’s meager wealth do for the millions who starve to death annually?

Close to nothing.

But wealth is not our only asset… we have connections, and we have a voice. We can convince those around us to help to make the world a better place. You have connections to other people with connections… if you were to convince them to start convincing people they knew, imagine how much good could be done.

When enough people care about the same thing, real changes can happen. We – the people in the wealthy nations – have the power right now to alleviate a lot of the suffering in the world, if we’d come together to embrace the power and use it.