Thursday, March 11, 2010

At This Moment of Global & National Crisis, Do You have Eyes to See, & Ears to Hear? Are You Ready to Share the Hope & Courage this Moment Demands?

Gustav Klimt, Hope I (1903)

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom."

"Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness."

"The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood."

"The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict."

-- Dr. Martin Luther King

At This Moment of Global & National Crisis, Do You have Eyes to See, & Ears to Hear? Are You Ready to Share the Hope & Courage this Moment Demands?

By Richard Power

At this particular moment in history, there are extremely dangerous circumstances for us to come to grips with, and extremely difficult decisions for us to be make.

Who will dare to speak honestly about our circumstances? Who will dare to articulate the hard decisions these circumstances demand?

And who will dare to walk with those who dare to lead?

We cannot afford to allow the future of the planet and the nation to be the plaything of the Karl Roves and Rahmn Emmanuels among us. Rove's role in the betrayal of U.S. secret agent Valerie Plame is evidence enough that he is a sociopath. Emmanuel's failure to understand how and why Obama was elected is proof enough that he does not know the world nearly as well as he thinks he does.

We have urgent and serious problems to address; and neither of these sick puppies have proven up to the task at hand.

Consider this story:

A new study released by the research and consulting firm Spectrem Group finds that the number of millionaires in the United States increased by double digits the last year. According to Spectrem Group’s data, “families with a net worth of at least $1 million, excluding primary residences, rose to 7.8 million in 2009,” an increase of 16 percent ... Number of millionaires in America increased 16 percent in 2009, Think Progress, 3-9-10

Yes, the number of millionaires in the US increased by double digits in 2009.

Meanwhile, there were tens of millions unemployed, tens of millions more uninsured, hundreds of thousands dying (literally) from lack of health insurance; there were also millions of foreclosures in 2009, and millions more projected in 2010,, as well as millions of personal bankruptcies ("in 2009, they totaled 1,412,838, up 32 percent from the 1,074,108 non-business bankruptcy filings in 2008").

Is the U.S. immolating itself on the pyre of predatory capitalism?

It may not be the only burnt offering ...

China's rural-urban wealth gap was the widest last year since the nation launched its economic transformation three decades ago, state media said Tuesday, amid concerns the disparity could spark unrest. China wealth gap widened in 2009: state media, Agence France Press, 3-2-10

Migrant Mother/Pea-Picker in the Dust Bowl, Photo by Dorothea Lange, 1936

Meanwhile, downstream on the river of tears ...

A new election law unveiled on Wednesday by Burma's ruling military bars pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi from running in upcoming elections and could force her own political party to expel her. Election Law Bars Aung San Suu Kyi, Irrawaddy, 3-10-10

Image: Aung San Suu Kyi, TIME 100

Listen, let's cut the crap.

Burma had a real election - in 1990; and Aung San Suu Kyi's party won 59% of the vote.

She was to be Prime Minister, but she was already under house arrest, and she has remained under house arrest for almost all the 20 years since.

There will not be another real election in Burma until the junta fails.

And at the Academy Awards, in Hollywood, an unfortunate choice was made:

Science fiction blockbuster Avatar was the big loser in the Oscar awards ceremony - not only a blow for director James Cameron but also seen as a symbolic reverse in the struggle to recover Amazon rainforest areas in Ecuador from the effects of oil pollution. Several environmental organisations, like the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and the Amazon Defence Coalition, had asked Cameron to "let his legions of fans know that while Pandora is fictional, what is happening to (indigenous) communities in Ecuador is as real as it gets." ECUADOR: Avatar Downfall a Blow for Indigenous Communities, IPS, 3-9-10

Avatar, a film by James Cameron

Can't you put your ear to the earth and hear what is happening?

Can't you gaze into the heaving of the sea and read what is written in its tumult?

A section of the Arctic Ocean seafloor that holds vast stores of frozen methane is showing signs of instability and widespread venting of the powerful greenhouse gas, according to the findings of an international research team led by University of Alaska Fairbanks scientists Natalia Shakhova and Igor Semiletov. Arctic Seabed Methane Stores Destabilizing And Venting, Terra Daily, 3-9-10

At this profound moment in human history, those of us who hear and see are like a shipwreck survivor trying to stay afloat in deep water, while holding on to a flailing and hysterical friend:

The Heritage Foundation, a once-influential conservative think tank, has long had extreme views (see “Heritage even opposes energy efficiency“). Now it has completely lost its grip on reality, comparing the IPCC’s scientific work to what a magician at a children’s party does ... “The Heritage Foundation loses its grip on reality, calls science ‘magic’”, Climate Progess, 3-5-10

Perhaps we have to accept that there is no simple solution to public disbelief in science. The battle over climate change suggests that the more clearly you spell the problem out, the more you turn people away. If they don't want to know, nothing and no one will reach them. There goes my life's work. George Monbiot, The Unpersuadables: When Facts Are Not Enough, Guardian, 3-9-10

There are few writers who I respect more than George Monbiot, but I am not ready to give up on his life's work, or my own.

I prefer to stand with ICC president Sang-Hyun Song - in defiant hope:

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir will eventually face justice in The Hague, according to the head of the International Criminal Court ... "When arrest warrants were issued against Slobodan Milosevic and Charles Taylor, people laughed and said it was a joke, but it took less than three years to get them brought before the tribunal," Song said on a visit to London.
"President Bashir will be brought to the Hague to face justice."
ICC chief: Sudan's Bashir "will face justice", Reuters, 3-4-10

Remember, everyone and everything everywhere is connected.

What you do counts. What you say counts. What you know counts. What you feel counts. What you are counts.

There is still time, there is still hope.

There is still a way, even if we have not yet found it.

Georgia O'Keefe, Blue Flower (1918)

For the Words of Power Climate Crisis Updates Archive, click here.

Have you met Al Gore at the Wall yet?

I encourage you to find out why 350 is the most important number in your life and the lives of everyone you love: go to or Google "Bill McKibben" for the answer.

As always, I encourage you to follow events in Darfur on Mia Farrow's site, it is the real-time journal of a humanitarian at work; the content is compelling, insightful and fiercely independent.

For an archive of Words of Power posts on the Crisis in Darfur, click here.

Support Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) and his six bills to Save Democracy.

Stand with Howard Dean on the struggle to deliver meaningful healthcare reform.

True North on the Pathless Path: Toward 21st Century Spirituality is available from

Left-Handed Security: Overcoming Fear, Greed & Ignorance in This Era of Global Crisis is available from

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