The Good – The Bad – The Possible

Over the years, I’ve written about Peak Oil, Community Exchanges, Shop Local, Campaign Finance Reform, Education Reform, Alternative Healthcare, Big Pharma, Corporate Monoculture Farming, Sustainable Living, Renewable Energy, Self-Healing and Spirituality.

I’ve read, listened and researched.

I’ve talked, argued and thrown my hands up in despair.

I’ve ranted, I’ve raved, tried sharing information through humor and How – Not – Too.

I’ve been on fire with enthusiasm and sick with despair when I believed that my passion for these subjects had no interested audience.

I’ve dreamed, I’ve hoped, I’ve struggled to make a difference through my lifestyle choices, purchasing decisions, writing topic choices and personal belief system improvements.

And now, all that experience has been encapsulated into one extraordinary two-hour film, “Thrive: What on Earth Will It Take?”, which I discovered this morning via a post by recOveryhealth.

(I embedded the film below – yes, it’s that important – I don’t want you to even have to click twice to start watching it  –  *You can donate to the producers here.)

So instead of digging through my archives, you can now glean all that info with the simple investment of a couple hours of your time – you can even watch in increments if you like…

The Good

From the beginning to about 33 minutes – the film highlights the creator’s background and reason for researching.  His quest for truth and the form he found it in echoes the conclusions found throughout the history of the spiritual, the religious and the scientific.  It has been postulated by the prophets, the holy men, the gurus, metaphysicists, cosmologists, cellular bioligists and quantum theorists:

There is a code to the Universe – to Life

If we  figure it out, we can work in harmony with it,

Instead of paddling upstream all the while…

And though I’ve had my crisis of faith moments and believed the Universe to be one big Chaotic mess, bent on destroying me – – I’ve found the only way for me to continue in this life with any semblance of happiness is to embrace the Code story in it’s many variations.

The Bad

Around 33 minutes, you enter the Bad phase – the phase that examines the problems facing our world and the inter-connected,  complex structures  that are contributing to or causing-on-purpose the disasters we fear and seek refuge from.    It digs deep into systems and mind-sets that contribute to the misery of our lives –

You may not agree with all the viewpoints referenced as causing our global problems, but only the truly oblivious could say we have no challenges regarding our continued existence given our present course.

It’s not always a pleasant or comforting place to be, confronting our fears – though I believe this film does it’s best to present the information within a space of hope – – which brings us to…

The Possible

At around 1 hour, 38 minutes – after you’ve delved into a story you really hope isn’t true -but suspect is –  you get to watch the What’s Possible portion.

(If you’re already worried and depressed about the state of things and you feel powerless in being able to do anything about it – skip from :33 to 1:38 on the film.

Choosing not to wallow in the problems portion will not keep you from being inspired by the Possible section; however, if you’re one of those who must know Why? before you do – best just take your lumps and confront your fears.  Watch with a friend and the lights on if it helps – – )

The Possible portion will inspire you – it will show you easy-to-integrate ways to make a difference, right now, today, with what you already know and  have, with who you already are.  To quit contributing to the problems and instead, become part of the solution – you don’t have to do them all – – any forays you make into your favorite arenas makes a difference – just pick one and start.

Without further ado – here’s “Thrive: What on Earth will it Take?”:

For myself, I’m continuing on through my day ‘off’ by meandering through the ThriveMovement website – – – they sound like my kind of folks….

First Amendment History

While researching and getting distracted during my last post, I came across a lot of interesting case law regarding First Amendment issues.

In 1919, the Supreme Court ruled that Charles Schenck was not protected by the First Amendment when he distributed leaflets that

“urged the potential draftees to refuse to serve, if drafted, on the grounds that military conscription constituted involuntary servitude, which is prohibited by the Thirteenth Amendment.” – Wikipedia, Charles Schenck

This landmark case and opinion was the foundation of the oft mis-quoted phrase, “You can’t shout “Fire” in the middle of a crowded theater.”

Basically, the Supreme Court decided Mr. Schenck’s actions and rhetoric presented a clear and present danger that Congress must prevent.

In other words, Mr. Schenck was interfering with the swelling of military ranks needed to fight a war Congress had approved.

Hmmm….aren’t there plenty of indicators our nation’s military forces are desperate for new enlistees?   It seems that way to me – therefore, I would think Mr. Phelp’s and his followers would be in violation of interfering with the Government’s pursuit of more soldiers…

It should be noted Mr. Schenck spent six months in jail.

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Jumping through the pages of history, we find Brandenburg v. Ohio. Seems Charles Brandenburg, a Ku Klux Klan leader in Ohio, invited a journalist to one of his shindigs, during which he made a speech inviting others to a ‘march on Washington’ and advocating whatever means necessary in order to accomplish organizational goals.

He was convicted under Ohio state laws regarding criminal syndicalism – in other words, inciting others to violent or illegal means to effect political or social change.  $1,000 fine and one to ten years in prison.

This conviction was later reversed by the Supreme Court.  Lots of verbiage regarding how to decide if ‘speech’ carried with it imminent danger of inciting violence or lawless actions was examined.

In the end, one who was advocating social change in any form necessary, including violence, was set free and one who called for individuals to refrain from violence towards their fellow man and questioned government’s right to force that violence,  ended up in jail.

Interesting, eh?

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There are many of my opinions that do not find favor in the eyes of others.   Hence, I blog, rather than pushing my way into or legally near places that contain folks  vehemently opposed to my way of thinking.

Why should I purposely enter arenas with comments likely to incite a punch to my mouth?  I do not go around blindly believing  government and law will protect me while I bait, inflame and incite fellow citizens who are normally law-abiding.

I’m sure if Mr. Phelps ever got a right punch to his jaw, he’d also be crying out for assault charges to be levied.   Never mind that he and his followers consistently espouse their opinions publicly, to an audience primarily composed of those emotionally distraught by grief.

I suspect at some point, he will target the wrong audience – and end up with a busted jaw or worse.

And I imagine the attorney of the perpetrator will rightly use the ‘insanity plea’.

I know from personal experience, intense grief makes you somewhat insane.

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My dad once told me he and his best friend often spent grade-school recess time indoors.

As punishment for fighting.

With each other.

He also observed that though the elementary play ground was littered with physical combat, the high school arena was less so.

Early confrontations meant everyone knew the increasing pain and injury that occurred as their strength grew.

They had also learned, early on when punches didn’t pack so much wallop, there’s some things you just don’t say unless you’re wanting your jaw wired shut for six-months or so.

While I do not advocate bullying, I have to say his observations intrigued me.

Apparently, the school ground held plenty of lessons regarding both rights and responsibilities, as well as the consequences of running your mouth.

I can guess Mr. Phelps and his crew did not attend school with my Dad, else they’d know better.

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In our quest for freedom and a society in which disagreement can take place civilly, we are in danger of  diluting the consequences felt by those who exercise their rights fully without exerting much, if any, responsibility.

I’m not advocating a punch in the jaw to those who pick inappropriate venues to espouse their beliefs, but I do caution those engaging in the legal battle to think long and hard before rendering their decision.

Do not forget the Responsibilities that come with our Rights.

Rights and Responsibilities

Years ago while working as a cashier at a convenience store in Denver, I found wisdom printed inside a carton of cigarettes.

Salem brand had apparently figured out the moral war against smoking was quickly gaining steam.  In an effort to inspire consumers, they had printed a detailed commentary inside the carton packaging.  The first line read:

Your Rights and Responsibilities as a Smoker

followed by a list of what rights I had and what responsibilities I should embrace.

I can’t remember the rest, though I imagine refraining from  blowing smoke in a loudly harassing non-smoker’s face was not on the responsibilities’ list, though it should have been.  I have been frequently tempted….

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I was barely 18 then – I had not yet been exposed to the concept:

Do what you will – Harm None.

Though my education in that would soon follow.

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Our Founding Fathers must have been pretty familiar with both these concepts.   The Bill of Rights reads as a long list of state and individual rights.

Our legal system has grown to include a long list of punishments when we forget our responsibilities.

Seems giving people a lot of rights necessitates in needing a ‘cautioning hand’ to keep them from abusing those rights.

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Let’s look in on one of the latest battles around the First Amendment – Snyder vs. Phelps .  Seems rights of religion, speech and assembly are being supported without too many hard looks at responsibility.

Some supporters of Phelps really don’t like how he and his followers choose to exercise their rights – protesting and picketing military funerals to spread their message that God hates gays and our government’s policy of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ is leading this country to wrack and ruin.

Yet they state not siding with him would endanger First Amendment rights for all.

Really?   Let’s revisit the wording of the First Amendment:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Hmm..did you see the words “peaceably” and “petition the Government”?

A whole sentence about rights peppered with a few words regarding responsibilities.

Since I’m not an attorney, the message is pretty clear – I can start or exercise any religion I choose and I’m free to talk about it or write about it.  I’m also allowed to assemble peacefully with others and if I don’t like something, I’m free to petition my Government to get it changed.

What astounds me is the focus on Mr. Phelps’ rights and the equally blind-eye turned towards his responsibilities.

What’s ‘peaceful’ and ‘petitioning the Government’ about picketing individuals’ funerals?

Common sense must be led through multiple twists and turns and fattened up with a whole truckload of verbiage to mount any kind of First Amendment defense for the Phelps side.

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Yes, we have rights – boatloads of them.   We also have responsibilities.   Those who forsake their responsibilities, to my mind, forsake their rights at the same time.

Hand-in-hand they go.  As they were meant to.

Freedom of Religion

In my Facebook world, the decision regarding a mosque to be built at Ground Zero is topic of discussion this morning.

By turns, I’m emotionally outraged and sympathetic towards elected leaders.

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See, President Obama, by daring to even speak publicly about this subject,  has placed himself in the ever-fun world of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t”

On the one hand, supporting construction of a building to worship at the altar of a religion that was used (in a twisted interpretation) to inspire and motivate suicide bombers is an affront to the patriotism and emotional solidarity of the Christian Majority.

On the other hand, he did promise during his inauguration to uphold the Constitution of the United States. Which, via the First Amendment, contains guidelines regarding Freedom of Religion, Freedom of Speech, etc., etc….

In common terms, Separation of Church and State.

If the builders have followed all regulations regarding zoning, permit and licensing laws, then, it seems the Constitution would uphold them proceeding, regardless of whether they build a Starbucks or a Mosque.

The announcement of such, however, lures the Patriotic Heart with calls of, “Hey!  I’m capable of ticking you off.  Come out and play….”

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In contradiction of my usual manner (flying off the handle and eloquently stating my outrage via a 10,000 word blog) I instead listened to my rational self.

“What’s going on in the background while this bonfire is being fed?”

I find it interesting that Congress reconvenes on September 13th.   And you had better be registered to vote no later than October 4th.

Cyberspace Security Act 2009 and Illegal Immigration Reform bills are making their stealthy way through chambers and across desks in our nation’s capital.

I also keep track of the activities supported by Big Pharma and those who genetically modify seeds.

In your understandable emotional angst, don’t forget to keep your eye on the ball.

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I refer you to page 179 of Customs and Culture by Eugene A. Nida:

“Legislating or ranting against socially harmful practices is not likely to have much effect.  Preaching itself is relatively useless unless it offers something distinctly better”

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Dear reader, if I’ve bumped once more into your sacred beliefs, I am truly sorry.   But I cannot help but remember there are Muslims who were born and bred in this country, who fight by the side of their fellow American soldiers, who get up every morning, kiss their spouse good-bye and hope both they and their children all return home at the end of the day, safe and happy.  Who contribute their minds, hearts and hands to local economies and new discoveries.

So for my part, I’d like to see a Center for Education at Ground Zero.

I’d like to see a ring of buildings that allows visitors to learn about Mohammed, Jesus, Buddha, Krishna (I like this, god of divine love and joy, plus Humor!), Mother Teresa, Ghandi, Yi Ying, Ben Franklin….the list goes on and on.

See how quickly I got from listing prophets of religions to secular leaders?

The wise and faithful come in various shapes, sizes, nationalities and beliefs.   We each have the opportunity to create more distress and add to the hate in this world, or contribute to tolerance and peace.

I remember 9/11 vividly.   By day three, my broken heart could no longer stand anymore TV viewing.   It soared to hear Toby Keith’s Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue.  (I’m a big fan of kickin’ arse… when needed…)

I did not personally know anyone in targeted buildings.

I do, however, know what’s it’s like to lose a beloved suddenly and unexpectedly to an enemy I didn’t see coming.

I’m just asking for us to please, not keep repeating our past mistakes.

Not all Germans were Nazis (Albert Einstien and Oskar Schindler come to mind)

Not all Catholics served as torturers or supporters for The Inquisition (two of my favorite Catholics are Galileo Galilei and Nostradamus.)

And from what I’ve been exposed to, there are plenty of Muslims requesting,

“Please, Please do not lump us in with those nuts….”

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I know it hurts.  It seems like condoning actions of those you ardently oppose.    But we sacrifice our own Freedoms when we say,

“Yes, there’s Freedom of Religion and separation of Church and State, just not here, and not for you….”

More Security Headed Your Way

Being a registered voter now means I have more responsibilities.   Like reading pending legislation and letting my representatives know how I feel about it.

Good thing I’m not working full-time.

This latest-greatest commentary brought to you compliments of Senator John Rockefeller.   (Why does that name ring a bell? Oh yeah, now I remember….)

Senate Bill S. 773, Cybersecurity Act of 2009, has various interpretations:

According to Campaign for Liberty folks, it will give the President the power to shutdown all non-government internet networks if a state of ’emergency’ is declared.

They hypothesize that ’emergencies’ could be declared when Heretical Bloggers (aka Free Thinking American Writers exercising their Freedom of Speech rights) are ardently posting their Disagreement with Proposed Legislation (historically labeled as “Disinformation Campaigns” by the current regime.)

According to OpenCongress summary:

“The bill also calls on the Department of Commerce to establish and maintain a clearinghouse  on information related to cybsecurity threat and vulnerability information to public and private infrastructure deemed “critical” by the President.” (Full Summary Here)

I used to work for a guy who kept a list of the people he viewed as ‘enemies’ in his desk drawer.   He deemed this list of people who were dumb enough to publicly disagree with him as ‘critical’.   I would like to see the President’s list of what he calls ‘critical’ before this legislation becomes law.

The Wikipedia summary shed some light on actual language of the bill and indicated other politicians are running around, writing their own bills regarding cyber security, by turns trying to lighten or increase the power of the President to take over or shut down telecommunications.

A quick glance at Senator John Rockefeller’s website homepage shows me he has secured over 131 million dollars in appropriated funds for West Virginia – some surfing and searching netted me a press release regarding s. 773.

During my journey, I see Senator Rockefeller is a big fan of security.   He is committed to keeping Americans safe.   He also appears to be a bigger fan of defending our own infrastructure and country vs. engaging in civil wars located elsewhere.

But I also see his website contains  content that refers to the Bush Administration.   I’m familiar with how political objectives can change over time.  I question if his viewpoints posted nearly 2 years ago are still the same.

Also, I wonder how much he really knows about the internet and therefore, it’s security.

The most novice blogger knows Website Commandment #1:

“Keep your site updated and add fresh content daily.”

(I’m not really casting stones – I fully disclose my recent dereliction of duty regarding Grazin’ Acres news…)

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I will again point out the glaring contradictions –

“Yes, we have no money” (sing to Yes, We Have No Bananas) – Whoop-Whoop!

C’mon, sing the next verse with me:

“But we have plenty of money to create a new agency, form a panel and oversee the implementation, licensing and organization of a Cyberspace Security System…”

(nope, it doesn’t all fit to the music… but, hey, ain’t we having fun?)

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Last spring, for some reason still not completely known to me, I spent a day with no cell phone service and no internet connection.   Seems a cell tower went down, but never discovered the reason for no internet service.

I wandered around the house, lost as to what to do.   (I’m good at ignoring laundry and dishes…)

I needed those tools – I was in the middle of building a database for a customer (who was trying to call me with their decisions regarding bells and whistles) and maintaining a website for a candidate for the local Sheriff’s position.

I realized how much of my life revolved around a house of cards.   I took a deep breath and set about restructuring my life.

Thank goodness!   While I’m currently blogging, I do have a back-up plan to put into action when the President is faced with an emergency and my local internet access is shut down.  It’s called solar-baked bread…and, perhaps, some housework…

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Here’s my version of how this whole SNAFU came about:

Military: Oh lookee at this cool new tool.

Department of Defense Contractor: Oh lookee at what we can make it do.

Genius Entrepreneur: Just think how much campaign contributions I can make if you allow me to turn this technology into a commerical enterprise.

Politician: You got it!

(Hum while the years go by….)

Government: Oh crap!  Look at all the free speech and disinformation campaigns going on… Look at all those sales!  Hey, are we getting our fair share of the sales? Something must be done!

Senator Security-Is-My-Name: I submit to you the Cyber Security Act of 2009, just sign on the dotted line and all will be well….

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Wikipedia informs me ( History of the Internet) the birth of this wonder was originally created to support higher education objectives and those smart folks were not happy when suggestions for commercial use first appeared.

Don’t a lot of college endeavors get accomplished via Federal Grants?

If so, I rest my case.   Just replace “Military” with “Federally Funded Research”.

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Those in my circle call me a closet conspiracy theorist.   I disagree.

I can’t blog from my closet.

As a nation, we have been led down the rosy path of living via cyberspace.  Regardless it’s beginnings, the system is now primarily financed and maintained by the ingenuity, hard work and private funds of individuals.

To find pending legislation that puts the decision on whether that infrastructure is ‘up and running’ or not  in the hands of a few highly placed officials causes me heartburn.

I liken it to the wanton destruction of food stores by local officials who don’t like how a farmer is doing business.

I’m also reminded of  the “Convert to Electronic Banking” campaign and the reality of that system.

Is this really what Security should look like?