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20 ways to be an empowered citizen, empowered consumer

I was sitting in a class on how to build support for making social change, and one of the discussions we had is a comparison of the differences between the civil rights era environment and today’s civic environment.  This made my mind leap into making a list of a score of dozen ways to be an empowered citizen and an empowered consumer.

Writing this post, I realized that this list is a micro version of Gandhi’s Constructive Program. In the period between civil Disobedience Campaigns, Gandhi kept his followers engaged and progressing by building a sustainable community-based economy to replace the imperial system which oppressed them.

Making organic mashed potatoes with Kimberly #...
Making organic mashed potatoes.
  1. Buy local, organic, and fair trade.
  2. Move your money to a credit union.
  3. Drink more water, but not bottled.
  4. Have a car-less day.
  5. Throw out your TV.
  6. Grow a garden.
  7. Share hand-me-downs.
  8. Use your library.
  9. Support local arts.
  10. Make your own music.
  11. Support local and independent media.
  12. Only donate to nonprofits where you know how the money is being used.
  13. Only support candidates and political parties who don’t take corporate donations.
  14. Teach people how to write-in on the ballot when they don’t like the choice of candidates.
  15. Cook family meals at home.
  16. Oppose war.
  17. Oppose insurance companies and support single payer health insurance
  18. Spend less
  19. Barter
  20. Join a CSA {Community Supported Agriculture].
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Erasmus the Pacifist| War Is A Crime .org

One of our goals on this site is to catalog the hidden history of pacifists.  This article does so beautifully.

The Genius of Erasmus | War Is A Crime .org.

Cover of "The Complaint of Peace"

Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus, who lived from October 27, 1466, to July 12, 1536, faced censorship in his day, and has never been as popular among the rich and powerful as has his contemporary Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli. But at a distance of half a millennium, we ought to be able to judge work on its merit — and we ought to have regular celebrations of Erasmus around the world.  Some of his ideas are catching on.  His name is familiar in Europe as that of the EU’s student exchange program, named in his honor.  We ought perhaps to wonder what oddball ideas these days might catch on in the 2500s — if humanity is around then.

In 1517, Erasmus wrote The Complaint of Peace, in which Peace, speaking in the first-person, complains about how humanity treats her. She claims to offer “the source of all human blessings” and to be scorned by people who “go in quest of evils infinite in number.”

Read the rest of the article.

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RIP Tony Benn, Lifelong War Critic

Remembering British MP Tony Benn, a Lifelong Critic of War and Capitalism + Never be afraid of getting old | Dandelion Salad.

Tony Benn about to join the March 2005 anti-wa...
Tony Benn about to join the March 2005 anti-war demonstration in London

democracynow.org – Tony Benn, the former British Cabinet minister, longtime Parliament member and antiwar activist, has died at the age of 88. He was the longest-serving member of Parliament in the history of Britain’s Labour Party, serving more than half a century. He left Parliament in 2001, saying he planned to “spend more time on politics.” In 2009 he appeared on Democracy Now! to talk about the war in Afghanistan and Britain’s fight for a nationalized healthcare system.

“You’ve got to judge a country by whether its needs are met and not just by whether some people make a profit,” Benn said. “I’ve never met Mr. Dow Jones, and I’m sure he works very, very hard with his averages. We get them every hour. But I don’t think the happiness of a nation is decided by the share values in Wall Street.”

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10 of the best Tony Benn quotes – as picked by our readers | Politics | theguardian.com.   Continue reading

TWL: Things We Love

TWL: Vinegar

TWL: Things We LoveI admit that I do like the fancy Balsamic Vinegar that come in wine bottle shapes and make awesome dressings and marinades.  This post is not about that vinegar.

This post is about the white vinegar that you can find in the clear plastic gallon jug in the bottom shelf of the supermarket.  Even better is the extra-cheap store or generic brand.  We usually have at least two jugs of it around the house at a time.

No, we don’t use that much by putting it on our breakfast cereal every morning.

We clean with vinegar.  All the time.  Continue reading

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Nobel Laureates: End Afghan War

The Power of Nonviolence: Writings by Advocates of PeaceThe final chapter in The Power of Nonviolence: Writings by Advocates of Peace is the  2001 International Appeal of Nobel Prize Laureates, Poets, Philosophers, Intellectuals and Human Rights Defenders for an Immediate End to the War against Afghanistan. This appeal ends the final section of the book: Post-Vietnam to the Present (1975- ) .

The appeal succinctly reiterates the points made in the last two essays.  The invasion of Afghanistan fails on two accounts.  It did not bring the perpetrators of 9/11 to justice.  It is increasing the future likelihood of terrorism against the US.

Since the Appeal is short, and a public document, I have reproduced it below:   Continue reading

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TWL: Things We Love

I know it's not Valentine yet but I'm full of ... Happy Valentine’s Day!

The idea of this site is to help bring a little more love into the world. We have been working to create a community space to share the way to a more peaceful life. Our definition of a peaceful life encompasses all areas of our lives.

Since the early days of this site we have been focusing on what it means to be a pacifist, and we will continue to do so.  We have also touched on what a shareable economy means; peaceful music and books; how a CSA works; and why vintage jewelry is better than new.

TWL will focus us on exploring what more of what peace means in the  rest of our lives, such as what it means to freecycle; to be a vegetarian; a locavore; a community member; to use nonviolent communication; and to clean with vinegar.  And more.   But first,

We want to hear from you!

What brings peace into your life?

What can you share from your journey?

Please use the comments section to share.

Continue reading

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Wise: War is Naive

The Power of Nonviolence: Writings by Advocates of PeaceThe Tim Wise 2001 essay Who’s Being Naive? War-Time Realism Through the Looking Glass is the penultimate chapter in The Power of Nonviolence: Writings by Advocates of Peace. This essay continues the Post-Vietnam to the Present (1975- ) section of the book.  Wise is an anti-racism educator and author.

His essay complements the previous Arundhati Roy essay War is Peace.  While Roy upholds the polite –but firm– criticism of a foreigner, Wise bluntly takes his fellow Americans to task for the Afghan War.  As someone who forces Whites to face up to their own privilege in US society,  Wise is at ease in ripping apart pro-war arguments in kitchen table language.

The criticism put forth by Roy and Wise reinforce each other by coming to the same conclusions from both external and internal vantage points.  Both 2001 essays were written when the Afghan invasion was fresh, and they have proved to be prescient as the Afghan War has dragged on for a dozen years.  Reminds me of the just departed Pete Seeger masterpiece,  Waist Deep in the Big Muddy. Continue reading

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