Saturday, December 31, 2005

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

blood + gore

Used to be blood and beastial sex was a common experience for those living on animal farms. And prior to agriculture, for 99% of our 100,000 years as modern homo sapiens, we have slaughtered and cut up animals for survival.

No longer do we "civilized folk" see animals doing what comes natural in the fields and barn, nor do we participate in killing and butchering of animals.

You might think we would miss it? And we probably do.

Some say this explains our fascination, even obsession with violent movies and pornography. We just aren't getting enough of that good old, everyday hunter gore. Not enough bloody birthing cows. Not enough neighborhood roasts.

Could explain a lot.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

buddha weighs in on metta

The Buddha's Words on Kindness (Metta Sutta)

This is what should be done
By one who is skilled in goodness,
And who knows the path of peace:
Let them be able and upright,
Straightforward and gentle in speech.
Humble and not conceited,
Contented and easily satisfied.
Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways.
Peaceful and calm, and wise and skillful,
Not proud and demanding in nature.
Let them not do the slightest thing
That the wise would later reprove.
Wishing: In gladness and in saftey,
May all beings be at ease.
Whatever living beings there may be;
Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none,
The great or the mighty, medium, short or small,
The seen and the unseen,
Those living near and far away,
Those born and to-be-born,
May all beings be at ease!

Let none deceive another,
Or despise any being in any state.
Let none through anger or ill-will
Wish harm upon another.
Even as a mother protects with her life
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all living beings:
Radiating kindness over the entire world
Spreading upwards to the skies,
And downwards to the depths;
Outwards and unbounded,
Freed from hatred and ill-will.
Whether standing or walking, seated or lying down
Free from drowsiness,
One should sustain this recollection.
This is said to be the sublime abiding.
By not holding to fixed views,
The pure-hearted one, having clarity of vision,
Being freed from all sense desires,
Is not born again into this world.

Monday, December 19, 2005


Steak. It was exemplary in its beefiness, beef with a capital B, the reddest of meats. A thick piece of seared flesh that held the promise of perfect satisfaction. Steak transcended mere gastronomic pleasure by unlocking a realm of corporal plenitude. To eat steak was to exist on a wholly different, more exalted plane than those who did not eat steak. There is no doubt about it, I had a steak fetish. But I certainly wasn’t alone.

Nirej Sekhon describes his experiences as a school boy from a traditional Indian family, who is introduced to the American beef culture.

Read the whole article at Ode

Friday, December 16, 2005

speaking of torture

The . . . painful scream resulting from a blow, wound, or an accident indicates immediately not something buy rather somebody. One who hears the cry of pain is astonished because the scream interrupts the commonplace and integrated world. The sound, the noise, produces a mental image of an absent-present sombody in pain. The hearer does not know as yet what kind of pain it is, nor the reason for the outcry. But the hearer will be distrubed until he knows who is crying out and why. What that cry says is secondary; the fundamental issue is the cry itself; one who is somebody is saying something. It is not what is said buy rather the saying itself, the person who cries out, who is important.

- Enrique Dussel

images of resistance - hong kong wto

Here is a fabulous compilation of images from the WTO demonstrations in Hong Kong from Indymedia!

cathedral in old edinburgh

photo credit: akb

the score? extremists 5 - peace and security 0

President Bush has handed terrorists their victory.

1) They wanted to stand face to face with world leaders; Bush elevated them from international criminals to the status of equals in war.

2) They wanted to provoke U.S. military intervention and repression in Muslim countries; Bush gave them wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as U.S.-sponsored torture.

3) They wanted the president to create the conditions for recruiting and building their global network; Bush obliged.

4) They wanted to weaken the U.S. in a costly war of attrition; President Bush went to war on their battleground on their terms.

5) They wanted to bankrupt the U.S.economy and starve it of oil; Bush's energy strategy, which only increases U.S. dependence on foreign oil, helps them to do this. (Though the silver lining is that the administration's policies drive oil prices up further, which may reduce demand in the long run.)

As Friends Committee on National Legislation said well four years ago, "terrorism is not a person, a place, or a thing. We cannot blast it out of this world. Violent retaliation by the U.S. will sow more seeds of hatred and reap a new harvest of terror."

Then again, fear and terror are are clearly part of the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld agenda. This climate helped Republicans in the 2002 and 2004 elections. And it continues to provide the rationale for our imperial foreign policy and the gutting of democracy here at home.


In one of my dreamier states, I wonder what it would be like to shape foreign and domestic policy on love rather than fear?

But for an intermediary step to a love-embued foreign policy, the Interational Relations Center in Silver City, New Mexico has developed a wonderful Good Global Neighbor Initiative that incorporates the best of American values. It wouldn't hurt to exercise those old values a bit, eh?!

Good Global Neighbor Initiative at

Monday, December 12, 2005


Some children were playing beside a river. They made castles of sand, and each child defended his castle and said, "This one is mine." They kept their castles separate and would not allow any mistakes about which was whose. When the castles were all finished, one child kicked over someone else's castle and completely destroyed it. The owner of the castle flew into a rage, pulled the other child's hair, struck him with his fist, and bawled out, "He has spoiled my castle! Come
along all of you and help me to punish him as he deserves." The others all came to his help. They beat the child with a stick and then stamped on him as he lay on the ground. . . . Then they went on playing in their sand castles, each saying, "This is mine; no one else may have it. Keep away! Don't touch my castle!" But evening came, it was getting dark, and they all thought they ought to be going home. No one now cared what became of his castle. One child stamped on his, another pushed his over with both hands. Then they turned away and went back, each to his home.

~ from the Yogachara Bhumi Shastra

metta development

While my son Julian was eating his piece of toast with Grandma's homemade blueberry jam and Haeja called for a substitute between coughing fits this morning, I sat at the kitchen table reading the Earth Charter. One thing became clear.

The Millenium Development Goals that are all the buzz are just that -- goals. Yes, they are good goals (though I confess that it is hard to get wildly enthusiastic about reducing by half the number of hungry people and leaving the other half to suffer and die...). But what is missing is the how. How do we get there?

The how is vitally important since the hows of our political and economic systems, as well as those pesky human flaws such as fear, selfishness and greed, are what got us in this predicament.

The Earth Charter gives the principles that can guide the how for meeting the Millenium Develolpment Goals!

In the Preamble it says -- "To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny." You see, the Charter provides the poetry, the heart.

In describing the global situation -- "The dominant patterns of production and consumption are causing environmental devastation, the depletion of resources, and a massive extinction of species. Communities are being undermined. The benefits of development are not shared equitably and the gap between the right and poor is widening."

So, yes, as we move toward water for all, halving the number of hungry, health care and education toward points on a chart, let us study and absorb the Earth Charter and its call to four broad commitments:

* Respect Earth and life in all its diversity.
* Care for the communikty of life with understanding, compasssion, and love.
* Build democratic societies that are just, participatory, sustainable, and peaceful.
* Secure Earth's bounty and beauty for present and future generations.

Getting us to meet these commitments and any of the Millenium Development Goals require means with heart:

* Preventing harm through the precautionary approach
* Revamping patterns of production and consumption
* Ensuring economic activities serve the ends of sustainability
* Guaranteeing gender equality in the process
* Upholding broadly defined human rights
* Strengthening democracy

All while promoting a culture of tolerance, nonviolence and peace which ultimately comes through right relationships with oneself, other persons and cultures, other life, Earth and the larger whole of which all are a part.

Finally, the Earth Charter points us toward universal responsibility -- "To realize these aspirations, we must decide to live with a sense of universal responsibility, identifying ourselves with the whole Earth community as well as our local communities. . . . The spirit of human solidarity and kinship with all life is strengthened when we live with reverence for the mystery of being, gratitude for the gift of life, and humility regarding the human place in nature."

Learn about how it came to be and download the Earth Charter (it is only six pages) at

Friday, December 09, 2005

closing the revolving door on corporate influence

Things have sunk pretty low in Imperial America. And, surprisingly, a majority of Americans know it.

According to a CBS News/New York Times Poll last year, "59% of the American people trust the federal government to do what is right only some of the time," even as 64% responded that "government is pretty much run by a few big interests looking out for themselves."

Worse yet, President Bush has brought "the business special interests into politics so they can take over the regulatory bodies of government and regulate themselves." (former senior White House official in the year 2000)

Revolving door works in three ways:

1) Industry-to-Government "Reverse" Revolving Door

2) Government-to-Industry Revolving Door

3) Government-to-Lobbyist Revolving Door

The net result is advancement of corporate influence, power, and complicity in enacting self-serving policies. In other words, subversion of democracy.

A coalition of groups called the Revolving Door Working Group and spearheaded by Peter O'Driscoll of the Center of Concern is not content to watch democratic rule go down the drain. They are educating and organizing to improve and enforce government conflict-of-interest and ethics rules.

Ethical corporations? Some actually are. Stricter rules and enforcement would encourage the myriad bad apples to behave, since jail terms in cushy apartments doesn't seem to be providing adequate deterrence.

Read more about this critically important work at


Thursday, December 08, 2005

gas guzzling food or local food?

It takes about 10 fossil fuel calories to produce each food calorie in the average American diet. So if your daily food intake is 2,000 calories, then it took 10,000 calories to grow that food and get it to you. In more familiar units, this means that growing, porcessing and delivering the food consumed by a family of four each year requires the equivalent of almost 34,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy, or more than 930 gallons of gasocline (for comparison, the average U.S. household annually consumes about 10,800 kWh of electricity, or about 1,070 gallons of gasoline). In other words, we use about as much energy to grow and transport our food as to power our homes or fuel our cars."

The moral of the story: buy locally grown foods.

More on this from the Organic Consumers Assocation!

You can also download my article called Energy, Food and You: On the Path to Reconciliation at

nor is racism metta

Number of black U.S. senators during the entire 1800s, the entire 1900s, and today, respectively : 2, 2, 1

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

death and life

Baggage claim.
"Nihongo wakarimasu ka?"
"Hai, wakarimasu." I assured the thin customs official that I understood Japanese.
"Shinkoku suru mono arimasu ka?"
"Eh, shinkoku?"
"Oh. No, no."
"Daddy is dumb." My three-year-old, Julian, summed up the exchange with this comment in Japanese.
The customs official laughed nervously.

That was the scene as I entered Japan with sons Julian and Elias to go to the funeral of my wife's father. Surreal was how it started and continued... If you want to read a journal account of a Korean-in-Japan's funeral, download away.

Monday, December 05, 2005

fascism then. fascism now?

Abolishing the inheritance tax. Massive subsidies to the largest businesses. Wage reductions. The poor subsidizing the rich.

Sound like Bush-Cheney's America? These were the economic policies in Mussolini's Italy.

Paul Bigioni raised my awareness, this morning as I leisurely read in bed on this first real day of my two-week study leave, about the economic undergirding of fascism in Europe. Our image of goose-stepping storm troopers and barking dictators is just the outcome of a slide toward greater concentration of wealth and economic power.

Don't be afraid to learn about the disturbing parallels -- greater consciousness of this might just be the difference between learning from horrible mistakes and having our children live them again.

Fascism Then. Fascism Now? -

Friday, December 02, 2005

a modern paraphrase of isaiah 2:5

Yesterday, I was beginning to sort, file and trash the many piles of
documents on my desk, table and, yes, floor in my office and I found
an Advent Devotions 2004 called "Proclaiming the Good News of God's
Peace." Just so happens that today, December 2nd, was the day I was
invited to offer a reflection on Isaiah 2:5-22, and here is what is
written --

A Modern Paraphrase

O house of the Powerful, let us walk in the light of the Lord! For
you have forsaken the ways of your people, O house of the Powerful.

Indeed they are full of financiers from the East Coast, and they
clasp hands with foreign bankers.

Their land is filled with silver and gold, and there is no end to
their treasures; their land is filled with stocked shelves, and there
is no end to their hoarding. Their land is filled with idols; they
bow down to the work of their laptops.

And so people are humbled, and everyone is brought low--do not
forgive them! The haughty eyes of people shall be brought low, and
they shall be humbled; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.
For the Lord of hosts has a day against all that is proud and lofty,
against all that is lifted up and high; against all the guided
missiles and smart bombs; and against all the oil fields they claim;
and against all the beautiful technology.

The haughtiness of people shall be humbled, and the pride of everyone
shall be brought low; the Lord alone will be exalted.

In Isaiah 5:22, we are warned to "turn away from mortals, who have
only breath in their nostrils, for of what account are they?"

But do we? Will we?

Glorious God--who infuses everything with love, sublimity, and
power--grace us with the courage to choose love over apathy, justice
over complacency, life over death.


Thursday, December 01, 2005

make poverty history?

Yes, poverty made a big splash this past summer. Now we need to do something about it.

The Millenium Development Goals bring attention to the way individual and a country's poverty needs to be approached from many angles and there is good info up at the UN MDG site -

The Make Poverty History March in Scotland was truly inspiring with 250,000 people marching through the streets of Edinburgh. You can go here to view some photos I took. A quarter million people, mostly in white, voting with their feet for justice. It was powerful.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

drink up

The World Bank says the next world war will be fought over water. Doesn't seem like a good time to give up the people's rights over this public good.

Corporate Accountability Initiative has a great campaign on water and Coke, which is stealing and contaminating water in India. is a good place to go for good information and action ideas too.

Drink up while you can.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

walmart not practicing loving-kindness

What Do Wal-Mart's Low Prices Mean for Women Globally?

Find out how Wal-Mart's philosphy of "profits before people" impact millions of working women around the world.

Friday, November 18, 2005

fair trade or buy nothing at all

If you've been hearing the holiday shopping buzz and are vainly trying to resist, at least you can go to the Rural Coalition's SuperMarket Coop to order your Fair Trade hams, wreathes and nativity sets. Using the SuperMarket Coop supports small-scale family farmers, ag coops, and artisan groups.

But do remember Buy Nothing Day - Nov. 25 (and Nov. 26 overseas), the day(s) after Thanksgiving. Here are some sites with information on that growing event.

Buy Nothing Day has indeed gone global. Here is the International Site -

And the UK site:

And even Buy Nothing Day Japan (with Zenta Claus) - Their NOTHING recipes and Insecure Store are neat.

This last one is from AdBusters, which puts out a "culture jamming" magazine that some of you may have seen. Quite provocative.
You can download clip art, stickers, posters, etc.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


There is a story about a little boy who had never spoken. His parents took him to a variety of specialists, but nothing helped; the boy remained completely silent for thirteen years. Then suddenly one morning, sitting at breakfast with his parents, he said, "The cocoa's cold." "What?!" cried his astonished mother. "I said the cocoa's cold," the boy replied. His parents were themselves speechless for a moment. Then the father asked, "Why, after all these years of silence, do you now suddenly say, 'The cocoa's cold'"? "Because," the boy said, "everything was all right until now."

This was the beginning of a talk I did in Seattle about poverty in a nation (our nation) of plenty. It was for the National Students Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness Conference.
Here is a PDF of the whole talk. I would be interested in your reactions or advice on how to improve on it.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

no logo - whose codes of conduct?

Naomi Klein in No Logo raises serious concerns about Corporate Codes of Conduct. (p. 432)

Who gets to place the controls over human rights abuses in global production operations? People and democratically elected representatives or the global corporations themselves? Privatized corporate codes give us the corporations' answer to this question. (p. 434)

It is Orwellian: turning the enforcement of basic human rights into a multinational industry, as the private codes would do. Global labor and environmental standards should be regulated by laws and governments - not by a consortium of TNCs and their accountants, all following the advice of their PR firms.

The bottom line is that corporate codes of conduct - whether drafted by individual companies or by groups of them, whether independently monitored mechanisms or useless pieces of paper - are not democratically controlled laws.

Not even the toughest self-imposed code can put the multinationals in the position of submitting to collective outside authority. On the contrary, it gives them unprecedented power of another sort: the power to draft their own privatized legal systems, to investigate and police themselves, as quasi nation-states. (p. 437)

..."despite ineffectiveness of governments and the rhetoric of corporate triumphalism, there are still some mechanisms left with which to regulate multinationals. As we have seen, there are trade agreements and local selective purchasing laws, as well as ethical investment drives - but conditions can also be attached to government loans and insurance offered to foreign investors, as well as to involvement in government trade missions." We must force multinationals to accept such restrictions... (p. 437)

When we start looking to corporations to draft our collective labor and human rights codes for us, we have already lost the most basic principle of citizenship: that people should govern themselves.

By attempting to enclose our shared culture in sanitized and controlled brand cocoons, these corporations have themselves created the surge of opposition described in this book. By thirstily absorbing social critiques and political movements as sources of brand "meaning," they have radicalized that opposition still further. By abandoning their traditional role as direct secure employers to pursue their branding dreams, they have lost the loyalty that once protected them from citizen rage. (p. 441)

Monday, November 07, 2005

a wise bomb

treasure and heart

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

If Jesus is right about that, the heart of our nation is located along the security perimeter between the United States and Mexico.

Our treasure and our heart is in thousands of new prisons being erected.

Our heart is in the coal mines and oil fields.

Our heart is in the missiles, tanks and fighter planes we produce.

Our heart is in the Hummer cruising the streets of Baghdad and the streets of my town, U.S.A.

Our hearts are in our palm pilots, our cell phones, our clothes and our houses.

Where is your treasure? Your heart?

Friday, November 04, 2005

word to yo' mama

Word To Yo' Mama
The radio sunk to new lows this morning on my drive to Batesville... I actually heard a station play "Ice Ice Baby." I got quite amused, actually, and busted a couple of moves there in the car. And you've gotta love Vanilla Ice's "word to yo' mama."

Believe it or not, this is from the official blog of the National Network of Presbyterian College Women of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Their Fearless Leader, Kelsey Rice, just returned from a international women's conference in Thailand, and you can find her reflections and daily posts up at Network Notes.


Thursday, November 03, 2005

wal-marting (not metta)

Wal-Mart faces the largest class-action suit in history with 1.6 million women accusing Wal-Mart of discrimination, labor law violations, shipping jobs overseas, suppressing wages, and links to a powerful Chinese businessman allegedly involved in the weapons-trading arm of the People’s Liberation Army.

But the corporate crimes we hear about are less worrisome than the damage Wal-Mart’s business model has on the fabric of our communities.

To get those low-price deals on Tupperware, frozen pizzas and fertilizers, how do our communities pay?

Myth #1: Wal-Mart brings jobs. In fact, a new study reveals that five years after the entry of a Wal-Mart store into a county, total employment in the county remains unchanged. (Basker 2005) This means that all of the “new” jobs touted by the chain merely displace existing jobs. Net gain, 0.

Read the full article

And get everything you need for this month's High Expectations Week, including a Faith Resource Guide from the Wal-Mart Watch website

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

wrong about the right

I believe that the recent analysis Wrong about the Right by Jean Hardisty and Deepak Bhargava from the Center of Community Change is an invaluable contribution to progressives in the United States. The critique is lucid. Their strategy of focusing on younger organizers and supporting broad spectrum but notably locally targetted community organizing work on housing, health, economic justice, etc. is where we need to devote more resources and energy. But they say it much better.

Download the PDF article from

You can also download the Interfaith Worker Justice's Voice @ Work Toolkit at for Dec. 10 - International Human Rights Day

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


A king went hunting one day and, in the heat of the chase, became separated from the hunting party. In a forest clearing, the king was relieved to discover a small garden, where, he hoped, he might find refreshment, for he had become terribly thirsty.

The gardener did not acknowledge the king as the king, for he wore no royal clothing, but only that which hunters wear. The king asked for drink, and the gardener went forthwith to the orchard, picked some pomegranates, and squeezed a cupful of juice for him.

The king quickly emptied the cup and, still dry-mouthed, requested that an additional cup be brought to him. The gardener complied and returned to the orchard.

While the gardener was gone, the king ruminated, "This seems to be quite a rich place. Just think, it took only a few minutes to produce a large cup of pomegranate juice, and the gardener will soon be back with another. I ought to impose a very heavy tax indeed on such a property. "

But the gardener did not return quickly; he delayed for more than an hour. The puzzled and perturbed king asked himself, "How is it the gardener could get the first cup full in just a few minutes and in over an hour be unable to squeeze out for me the second one?"

The king waited. When the gardener eventually brought the next cup of juice, not quite as full as the first, the king demanded an explanation for the delay.

The gardener, unrecognized by the king but in truth a Sufi master, answered, "You, O King, maintained a good intention when you made your original request for refreshment. However, when I went to procure the second cup, your good-heartedness altered. I know of no other explanation for the sudden diminishing of the pomegranates’ juiciness."

- Traditional Sufi Tale

Monday, October 31, 2005

metta eating: not ingesting poisons

Organic Diets Lower Children's Exposure to Organophosphorus Pesticides

The Centers for Disease Control have released a new study revealing that switching to organic foods provides children with "dramatic and immediate" protection from toxic pesticides. The scientists tested the urine of elementary school children for 15 days. Children ate conventional foods for ten of the days and ate organic foods for five days. Pesticide levels increased five-fold in the children's urine as soon as conventional foods were reintroduced to their diet. The study concludes, that many children are primarily exposed to pesticides through their diet, and not necessarily through other methods.

Find more study info at the Organic Consumers Assocation

Here is the downloadable report for the nitty-gritty.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

tens of thousands ticking away

Like me, you may find it surreal to watch our tax dollars zipping off to Iraq on a real time ticker. Those dollars to wage war and protect "assets" are dollars that result in the premature deaths of human beings - 2,000+ Americans and perhaps 100,000 Iraqis.

Those dollars will not be used for education, affordable housing or food stamps here in the U.S., nor there in Iraq.

The National Priorities Project has html code that you can embed in your blog or website.

Friday, October 28, 2005

what is 'metta'?

Going to the source by looking to a Buddhist sutra on metta is probably the best way to go:

He who is skilled in doing good and who wishes to attain that state of calm (Nibbana) should act thus: He should be able, upright, perfectly upright, obedient, gentle and humble.

Contented, easily supportable (i.e. not a burden to others), with few duties, simple in livelihood. Controlled in senses, discreet, not impudent, not greedily attached to families.

He should not commit any slight wrong, so that other wise men might deplore. May all beings be happy and safe, may their hearts be happy.

Whatsoever living beings that exist; weak, or strong, without exception, long, stout or medium, short, small or large, those seen (visible) or unseen (not visible) and those dwelling far or near, those who are born and those who are to be born. May all beings, without exception, be happy minded. Let no one deceive another nor despise anyone anywhere. In anger or ill will, let them not wish each other harm.

Just as a mother would guard her only child at the risk of her own life, even so towards all beings, let him cultivate a boundless mind.

Let thoughts of boundless love pervade the whole world; above, below and across without any obstruction, without any hatred, without any enmity.

Whether he stands, walks, sits or lies down, as long as he is awake, he should develop this mindfulness. This, they say is the Highest conduct here.

Not falling into (wrong) views, virtuous and endowed with vision (insight), he discards attachment to sensuous desires. Truly, he does not come again; to be conceived in a womb.

By the firm determination of this truth, may I ever be well. By the firm determination of this truth, may I be free from illness. By the firm determination of this truth, may peaceful victory be mine!

I retrieved this from Wikipedia, the open source knowledge encyclopedia ...