Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Words and Violence 4th Edition "Bullying the Planet"

This is the fourth year that Voices has compiled a new edition of Words and Violence 
The emphasis in this edition is on Mother Earth, and how resilient she has been in the wake of our endless "bullying." We've all heard stories of climate change, deforestation, global warming, pollution, and the misuse of our natural resources. This new edition helps concretize the planet's reality, and offers hope for a new beginning, providing ways to take our concern and move us to action.

"Who will save us now?" is our invitation to examine the problem of "Bullying the Planet" and to find the antidotes for becoming the solution. As we consider this poignant question we come face to face with a trilogy written by environmental journalist, Richard Schiffman. Schiffman introduces us to the "Five States of Environmental Grief," forces us to consider still another question, "Are the Oceans Failed States?" and concludes with exposing us to the issues of "Hunger, Food Security and the African Land Grab." 

In a second trilogy, this time written by Chicago Tribune columnist Robert Koehler, he unmasks his life mission and invites us to join him in undoing the mythology of violenceWalk Softly, speaks from the Indigenous voice and looks at what the earth's marginalized peoples may have to teach us about balance and how to protect the context from which we live. He explains why We Can’t Afford to Lose Another Decade and why and offers a reasonable request in asking us to grow up and act In Partnership With Mother Earth.

Poet and author of Harlem Renaissance Encyclopedia, Aberjhani, contrasts the philosophy of shared community with guerilla decontextualization—the insidious and deliberate art of manipulation in order to discredit and nullify, in Creative Flexibility and Annihilated Lives.

We enter a day-long healing chamber where we begin Awakening the Dreamer, a process of waking from the modern trance, healing the grief, and creating an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling and socially just world.

Artist and storyteller Carol Hiltner, who works with the Altai of Siberia guides us on a journey with those who have been pushed aside in favor of modern progress and with Maia Rose, we learn their story from the inside out in Mother Earth Cannot Be Bullied.

There is something you casually do every week and more often, that graphically demonstrates bullying to your children-- from the time they are toddlers until they become adults. You personally escort them through a gauntlet of bullying that illustrates, in living color, precisely how to brutally bully someone, humiliate them, dehumanize them, and sometimes even dismember them publicly-- for sport and entertainment. This demonstrates to your children how to take this bullying public by publishing it to a wide audience. And you do this a minimum of 500 times before they graduate from school. Your silence gives them permission. You may then wonder, "where do these kids get these ideas?" And when the principal calls to tell you that your child has been involved in an incident of bullying-- and not as the victim-- you may be shocked and asking yourself how in the world your child learned to be so mean. How? You taught them how and your silence was permission. You exposed your child freely and willingly to this toxic environment and you never once complained. Did you Teach Your Children Well ? 

In this edition, educator, author and admitted tree-hugger Kate Trnka takes us on a fanciful journey with her students as they explore the magic that awaits them in the forest as they communicate with trees and get to know them intimately in If These Trees Could Talk, Park I 

Lesa Walker, M.D. leads us through some classroom exercises, antidotes and compassion games in Bullying the Planet: Is There an Antidote? Community Activist and Environmental Guru Karen Plamer shares ideas for organizing a community and teaching kids about eco-responsibility with her game “Let’s Save the Earth” as she finds out Can Educating Them to Be Stewards be Easy, Educational, Engaging and Fun?

Voices Education is the education arm of the Charter for Compassion InternationalThe Charter is committed through its work and network of partners to bring compassion to the earth and all living things that call this place "home." You might even want to join the global movement toward compassion and make a donation.

Friday, August 15, 2014

4th Editon of Words and Violence to be released soon

We are working on the 4th edition of the Words and Violence Project at Voices Education (dot) org, a humanitarian organization and pedagogical institute. The work addresses bullying in all its incarnations and seeks the antidote to bullying grown to epidemic proportions in words and images.

The resource has grown to more than 600 pages with an audience of educators, civic leaders, and the general public in 140 countries.

We are please to welcome contributors to the 4th edition: Robert Koehler of the Chicago Tribune: Richard Schiffman, Environmental Journalist; Author and Poet Aberjhani whose work in "guerilla decontextualization" examines how bullies attack by dismantling the humanity of their target; Carol Hiltner, Author, Artist and Founder of Altai University who works with the Indigenous in Siberia; Kate Trnka, Author an Educator who takes students into the woods for conversations with nature... and more...

We are excited and hope you are too. If you'd like to become a contributor, please let us know by sending me an email.

The ways in which we bully the planet are countless: irresponsible environmental stewardship; exploitation of the Indigenous; mismanagement of land, oceans, water, air; the greed of earth's resources that belong to all, not to those who wish to conscript them as commodities and commerce; the skewed and exploited economy; climate change; artificial agriculture and food production; political indifference or the abuse of influence; the treatment of animals; land grabs and mismanagement; the collective psychic disconnection and denial; the moral vacuum in business and commerce; racism; double standards; the rising phenomenon of a spiritual vacuum; the abuse of authority and power; the trampling of human and civil rights; slavery; conflict; genocide; war...

If you have submissions, ideas and suggestions, or wish to volunteer to help with the project, please contact me.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Bring your Red Shoes- we're changing the world

Author and Scholar Karen Armstrong asked the question: "If we were truly compassionate with self, others and the planet, what would the world look like?"

The Charter for Compassion is asking, and answering, that question.

Karen described her fantasy in a TED Talk that won her the annual prize. She then set out to meet with religious leaders and luminaries asking them to help her draft a "Charter for Compassion" that would transcend all religious, ideological, and national differences.

At the mystical core of all religions lies the Golden Rule. All gods say the same thing: "be what you want to receive." That also happens to be how the quantum world works, so we are talking about creation here.

We are all living immersed in the invisible quantum soup that determines our experience. Do you want fear? Look for it in the world and stir in more... Do you want violence? Go looking for it; throw more into the pot. Or would you like a compassionate world where everybody is a steward of everybody else and the planet?

What will you stir into the quantum soup that becomes the ecosystem you have to live in? If you want to sour the soup bring hatred, fear, anger, prejudice, violence, war... If you want to sweeten the soup, bring generosity, empathy, kindness, love, compassion...

You might ask "is it really that simple?" The answer is "yes." The creation and the cosmos is a dance of atoms and molecules and minds. What if everybody brought their best game and wore their red shoes to the party, could we create a new Oz instead of a faux one?

The Charter for Compassion is asking you to sign on. So far there are almost 900 partners worldwide and close to 300 compassionate cities. It's the best idea humanity ever had and it's growing exponentially. You can join the charter by signing and you can become a member by making a donation whether that's with your money, your time, your talent, your enthusiasm, or your voice to spread the word. Spread the word, spread the world.

Be the change to make the change.

You're invited to the party. Oh, and bring your red shoes.

Here's how it works:

 Part I
What if the World Gave a Compassion Party and Everybody Came? Or bring your red shoes, were changing the world...

Part II Bring your red shoes...

Part III Bring your red shoes...

Friday, May 16, 2014

Who Remembered Their Mother?

On Mother's Day, mothers were recognized for their care, love and sacrifices while raising their children. Some have done it with partners and some single mothers have done it alone. Some have had the privileges that come with a comfortable life, and some have struggled through hardships in places that are challenging, neighborhoods that are poor, streets that are not safe and housing that is barely habitable.

Some mothers cared for their children in homeless shelters or maybe even on the streets because there is no partner or the partner was downsized and they are unemployed, have lost their home to foreclosure or a health crisis drained their savings and bankrupted them.

Some mothers have had to carry water miles to shacks that are sticks and straw while navigating through territory of marauders, rapists and predators. Some mothers have nothing to feed their children. Some children themselves have become mothers to their little brothers and sisters because their own mothers died from an AIDS epidemic that went unchecked by the uninterested. And yet...

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

For Mothers

It was Mother's Day and mothers everywhere were celebrated.  "Mother" is supposed to be synonymous with "nurturer," "fierce protector," "first teacher," and one who would lay down her life to save her children.

Kevin Durant, who received MVP (Most Valuable Player) award for basketball, thanked his mother in an emotional speech that ended with his mother getting a standing ovation.

A black man who grew up in a rough and poor  neighborhood claimed his stature as a successful professional by saying "we weren't supposed to be here."

He thanked his mom:
“We weren’t supposed to be here. You made us believe,” Durant told his mother. “You kept us off the street. You put clothes on our backs. You put food on the table. When you didn’t eat, you made sure we ate and [you] went to sleep hungry. “You sacrificed for us. You’re the real MVP.”

But there were some mothers who did not celebrate Mother's Day. Mothers in Nigeria spent the day in tears and anguished pleas "Bring our girls home."

Poet and author Aberjhani spoke for them...

Saturday, April 19, 2014

An invitation...

The 3rd edition of Words and Violence an internationally recognized (140 countries)pedagogical resource on bullying in all its incarnations... from the playground to the tabloids to the mortuary-- and hosted at Voices Education Project, featured "Performance Arts" in 2013 because they are a quintessential communicator and change agent to impact contemporary culture. It is one of the places where mass change can occur, where minds are awakened, challenged and where a portal opens for the enlightenment of mass consciousness.

"Performance" is story and communicates with words or without, with photos and images, movement and art... it is often where the human first encounters the mirror of self reflection and the glint of (Aha!) possibility. The arts can paint both the horror and beauty of the human condition and make us Think! (capital T.) It inspires some things and expires others. The canvas of human imagination, this table rasa of potential and raw material of human evolution grows the psyche, breathes inspiration and creates the collective future earth narrative. We are, after all, what we imagine ourselves to be and what we make of ourselves and our ecosystems.

The current ecosystem supports bullying and does it in ways that we don't even imagine because they are so acculturated as to have become invisible to us. But they are there-- like background noise that we no longer hear because it is such a constant low drone. We are infected with a virus-- epidemic and pandemic and while we have identified the illness that the virus causes (despair, overwhelm, cynicism, intractable fatigue, adult and horribly-- youth suicide,) we haven't quarantined the virus nor found its true cause. Time to get into the lab and take a look under the microscopic eye of honest and fearless scrutiny. Here's how...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Compassion served here! Now there's a drive up window!

Do you often wonder whatever happened to honor and integrity? Altruism? Compassion?

Are you just plain tired? Some days, dog tired? Were you up all night with a sick child? With your children and family responsibilities is it enough just to get the groceries purchased, food on the table, the car payment made, the lawn mowed in Summer or sidewalk shoveled in Winter?

Can you stand one more thing on your list of things that you have to check out? Is it too much to ask you to be informed on every single issue that affects you-- in the financial world, the political climate, your school system, the news, weather and climate change, what products you use that may be toxic, what is being recalled for what reason and that your food is safe?

Don't you wish people would "do the right thing" simply because it's the right thing to do? Wouldn't it be nice to expect the truth because that's just how things are done-- with unimpeachable honor? With impeccable integrity?

Don't you just wish that everybody on this sandbox we call "Earth" would just get along and play nice?

Wouldn't you like to reclaim your idealism or at least retract your cynicism and ...

A few Thoughts...

When I think about it, my own life is no less rich and the living no less inspiring than my pioneering ancestors and I come from a long line of Indians and outlaws so don't ever turn your back on me!

Life is, after all, a slice of human consciousness lived from its place in human evolution. "From here to eternity" as it were-- from earth to the stars, from personal space to cyberspace, from a small local footprint to the world reduced to the size of a notebook and sitting on your lap!

As a child I lived with the perpetual and immenent threat of annihilation. That's child abuse! It wasn't a kid-friendly world and I couldn't understand why the grown-ups who were in charge weren't doing something?

So at age seven with my face in the window eyes turned up into the night sky and staring at the stars I made a vow: "When I am a grown-up, I will do something."

My writing is that something and I write to "simply change the world." If that sounds like a lack of humility it isn't because I know that one person absolutely can change the world and I've met some who have.

Kay Kennedy put together an anthology that puts the reader in the midst of history to view it from the inside out.

When I was in high school and even college, history classes were stale and boring featuring memorization and regurgitation of dates that coincided with events that had no human face, certainly no magic, and no life!

Anthologies are great fun and stores are rich remembrances. History books chronicle; stories are little narrative slices of living. History comes alive through story. I often think of my grandmother and her story, her life-- the history she lived. In her lifetime she saw humankind evolve from horse and buggy to man on the moon.

I was a sixties kid and for the youth of the sixties, turmoil, disillusionment, and revolution were everyday 'business as usual'. Like a radio perpetually on low volume, fear and death dronned on in the background. The superpowers threatened to extinguish all life on the planet, the Vietnam War was escalating and peers were being escorted home under American Flag blankets. The civil rights and equal rights movements were testing human civility, and faster than one could recover from one shock another real life hero would fall to yet another assassin. Despair was commonplace. Contrast that with a man on the moon... we could conquer space travel but couldn't make nukes or war obsolete! It was a time when youth needed hope because hope was scarce. When it was finally resurrected, it came in the form of idealism and a philosophy of brotherly and universal love. Perfect principles; imperfect execution.

For others who contributed to "Looking Back," the history is different for each because the "times" were different as well as the perspective of the individuals. The stories of human societal evolution are enlightening, heartwarming, poignant and spellbinding. They put a human face on the past.

And there are people now who are putting a face on the future...