How many guns do you own? Using data from the International Small Arms Survey, Max Fisher of the Washington Post reported that there are 270 million weapons in private hands in the United States, or about 9 for every 10 US citizens. In an informal survey, I asked a lot of my friends whether they owned guns, and they said “no.” Thus, there must be a lot of people who own more than one to balance out my social circle.
But, you know, there’s big money being made from guns and ammo. That’s a point that Bill Moyers makes in his editorial (print version; video version linked to accompanying image) that aired 4 January 2013 on his TV show. It’s a dandy of a commentary that includes a clip of Wayne LaPierre making that extraordinary statement about bad and good guys with guns, echoes of Archie Bunker, and a real-life gun dealer who quit selling guns. That’s why, as Mr. Moyers reports, the gun lobby suppresses discussion about sensible control of weapons. Watch the video of his editorial.
Many people who know me will know that I hold little truck with religion. At best, I consider religions woe-begotten variations on reasoned ways to live one’s life humanely. However, as much as I find religions untenable, I shall defend folks’ right to espouse religious—or anti-religious and especially non-religious—views. Thus I was thrilled to hear the US Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s “Remarks at the Release of the 2011 International Religious Freedom Report” in which she delivered one of the most inspiring defenses of religious freedom I can remember hearing.
Whether you might agree or disagree with Ms. Clinton’s political positions, I think most people will agree that the core of her remarks are a spirited defense of foundational principles of human freedom. I hope people everywhere, regardless of political stripe, can watch or read this talk. There are, to be sure, the usual segments of the talk that have to do with thanking contributors to the talk, thanking allies, and calling out miscreants. But there are, as I heard it live while driving home from a meeting yesterday AM, sections of the talk that discuss fundamental human aspirations. Reminders of the ideas of principles on which the US and other democracies were based hundreds of years ago.
Rev. Billy and the Stop Shopping Choir have an answer to that question. It’s actually pretty obvious, ’cause the 1% (really the one-tenth of one percent) are all those folks you and I see pretty much every day. May Day is just around the corner.
Filed under Amusements, Civil rights, Eco-stuff, Equity, Free speech, Neighborhood, News, Notes and comments, Peace, Politics, Thanks for reading
(by Fredrick Onyango)
Wangari Maathai, Nobel Peace Prize laureate in 2004, died 25 September 2011. She advocated for peace and democracy in Africa. She also showed that the way to peace is paved with more than simple anti-violence; her Green Belt Movement got people doing things that helped their neighborhoods (small and large) to be better places to live.
This is like being a triple-threat in baseball or holding lots of high cards in a poker hand. She wasn’t a uni-dimensional contributor. And she was forthright in her advocacy for all of the needs of people. Here’s an excerpt from her Nobel talk:
In the course of history, there comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness, to reach a higher moral ground. A time when we have to shed our fear and give hope to each other.
That time is now.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee has challenged the world to broaden the understanding of peace: there can be no peace without equitable development; and there can be no development without sustainable management of the environment in a democratic and peaceful space. This shift is an idea whose time has come.
I call on leaders, especially from Africa, to expand democratic space and build fair and just societies that allow the creativity and energy of their citizens to flourish.
This is not an exhaustive list of ways to say “peace.” Thanks to the capacity of a small application on my computer to translate English to other languages and a table published by Frank da Cruz that has the word in lots of languages, however, it has enough ways to get the idea across that it’s an international concern. In honor of those who have lost their lives in terrorist attacks and the pursuit of terrorists, let’s go for it.
For fun this past weekend, Pat and I attended the New York City version of Wavy Gravy’s 75th birthday celebration. It was just a gossamer disguise for yet another fund-raiser for the Seva Foundation, an organization that does and has been doing lots of good deeds hither and yon. Seva has worked with the World Health Organization and leading international ophthalmology people to prevent and treat blindness, promoted health and literacy for girls and women, created healthy water management systems for indigenous people, developed innovative ways to address diabetes in Native American communities, and completed many other successful projects.
Leave it to the Right-on Reverand Billy to tie about forty-eleventy strings into one bow.
According to Reed Johnson of the Los Angeles Times, Rev. Billy, Savi, and a bunch of the other of them are holed up in LA doing some gigs. They’re trucking along that lefty coast singing the gospel.
On a drizzly evening earlier this week, the Rev. Billy, who calls Mickey Mouse “the Antichrist,” was denouncing the evils of mindless consumerism at CalArts, the Valencia college partly founded and funded by Walt and Roy Disney.
Thursday night, the Rev. Billy and his Life After Shopping Gospel Choir will be preaching their puckishly anti-capitalist message from the bully pulpit of REDCAT, the multipurpose venue tucked inside Walt Disney Concert Hall. A late-night performance was added after the first one sold out.
Check this: Bill McKibben, who’s written books about environmental matters and is a founder of 350.org, is throwing down the gauntlet. Here’s his pitch:
We’re holding a Global Work Party on 10-10-10. All over the world, people will be putting up solar panels, digging community gardens, and laying out bike paths, all in an effort to show some actual leadership in fighting climate change. It’s an effort, in part, to shame our political leaders—to show them what actual work looks like.
And a week in advance, I’m willing to make two predictions about the event: one that I’m pretty sure will come true, and one that I hope proves wrong.
That’s the lead (“lede?”). To read his predictions, go to his post, “Bill McKibben: ‘I Dare the Media to Cover This’.” Please promote 350.org.
Filed under Eco-stuff, Equity, Humanism, Neighborhood, News, Non-violence, Notes and comments, Peace, Politics, Science, Skepticism, Thanks for reading
According to Rob Stein of the Washington (DC, US) Post, the American Board of Anesthesiologists did a really good thing:
A national physicians organization has quietly decided to revoke the certification of any member who participates in executing a prisoner by lethal injection.
The mandate from the American Board of Anesthesiologists reflects its leaders’ belief that “we are healers, not executioners,” board secretary Mark A. Rockoff said. Although the American Medical Association has long opposed doctor involvement, the anesthesiologists’ group is the first to say it will harshly penalize a health-care worker for abetting lethal injections. The loss of certification would prevent an anesthesiologist from working in most hospitals.
Read Mr. Stein’s story.
Here’s a nifty synergy of art, children, and international interaction. Over on Microscopiq, Jason Ellis has a post about a project that is called “Brownstones to Red Dirt Postcard Art Benefit.” It sprang from a documentary about kids corresponding with each other.
Two colleagues at Blue Sky Studios, David LaMattina and Chad Walker, have created a feature-length documentary about a pen pal program between a group of at-risk sixth graders living in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn and orphans from the war living in Freetown, Sierra Leone. This Postcard Art project is an extension of the their film “Brownstones To Red Dirt” which features children from both schools.
Not only is the idea cool, but the images are really fine. In addition to reading the full original, “Blue Sky, Pixar & More Artists Paint for a Cause,” from Microsopiq, there’s a Web site specific to the project at http://btorpostcards.blogspot.com/.