I'm passionate about finding and sharing ideas that feed creativity and inspiration in this weary world. Because we're so surrounded with illusion and lies, I hope this blog will help others in their quest to get a bit closer to the truth. I'd also like to say that opinions expressed in this blog are not necessarily mine or those featured here. Oh, and if you choose to use any images/words from this site, kindly obtain permission from all relevant parties and add the necessary links and references.

This is default featured post 1 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.This theme is Bloggerized by Lasantha Bandara - Premiumbloggertemplates.com.

This is default featured post 2 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.This theme is Bloggerized by Lasantha Bandara - Premiumbloggertemplates.com.

This is default featured post 3 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.This theme is Bloggerized by Lasantha Bandara - Premiumbloggertemplates.com.

This is default featured post 4 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.This theme is Bloggerized by Lasantha Bandara - Premiumbloggertemplates.com.

This is default featured post 5 title

Go to Blogger edit html and find these sentences.Now replace these sentences with your own descriptions.This theme is Bloggerized by Lasantha Bandara - Premiumbloggertemplates.com.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Interview: John Stauber -"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"

Today's interview is with John Stauber of The Center for Media and Democracy. I recently caught him on The NewsHour on PBS and found his journalistic integrity refreshing. I apologize for all the links in this post, but I feel that these days, we need to be as informed as we can be and rely on our own hearts and minds to seek out the truth as opposed to sitting back passively and accepting whatever is told to us. (graphic courtesy of PRwatch.org)

What was it that influenced you to become an investigative writer, public speaker and democratic advocate when you were a teenager and what were the steps you took to get there?I was raised in a a very loving, Catholic, Republican family in central Wisconsin. I really believed in the moral, spiritual and patriotic teachings I received. But when I was 14 in 1967 I realized that the war in Vietnam was contrary to everything I had been taught to believe, and I began to question everything else. I became an anti-war activist in my high school and my community, and in 1970 was organizing the first Earth Day teach-in at our high school. I only wanted to be one of two things: a back-to-the-lander living simply in the woods, or a head-butting revolutionary working to make democracy, human rights, environmental sustainability and peace real. After a couple years of the former, the latter won out and I've been working in the public interest sector as an organizer, researcher, writer and speaker for 35 years.

I recently found out about the IVAW and the Winter Soldiers conference when it aired on Like It Is and wanted to thank you for hosting Coffee with the Troops. Do you find that there are any people in our government who are interested in hearing the soldiers accounts and more importantly taking action? Did any attend CWTT?Sheldon Rampton and I wrote two books exposing the propaganda that sold the war in Iraq. The first, Weapons of Mass Deception, was a New York Times best seller in the summer of 2003. In 2006 I had the opportunity to meet members of the Iraq Veterans Against the War and I realized immediately this was the most important anti-war organization because these were the patriotic, bright young people who fought the war, and they each felt compelled to speak out and oppose it. I organized Coffee with the Troops at the Yearly Kos (now Netroots Nation) event in Chicago in the summer of 2007 because I was and I am appalled by the liberal Democratic partisans in the blogosphere and in MoveOn and the Pelosi wing of the party who seem to be resigned to using the war as a political club against the Republicans but lack the guts to stop funding the war, which is the only way to stop it. CWTT was well attended and viewable on YouTube. However, most politicians lack the courage to really sit down with anti-war soldiers and admit what this horrific war is doing to America, much less the hundreds of thousands of people we've killed in Iraq for no real reason other than lies and propaganda.

I can't say that I was shocked to find out about the New York Times report on The Pentagons influence on military analysts who frequent television talk shows. I was really more angered and saddened. How did it come about that you were invited to the NewsHour and did you find that they were the only news organization who would touch the story?I know that in 2003 when our book on the propaganda campaign that sold the war came out, Weapons of Mass Deception, it was widely read and used by the researchers and reporters at the NewsHour. Perhaps that is why I was invited to appear on the show. David Barstow, the brilliant reporter for the New York Times who researched and wrote the story, was the obvious choice but because he was still working on the story he was not giving interviews. I suspect that Judy Woodruff found me to be a bit too aggressive in style, but I had to confront the outrageous indifference and ridicule that Bob Zelnick expressed toward this very important story. Every major TV network and the Pentagon refused to provide a guest for the NewsHour, and the TV networks who were duped into being used by the Pentagon military analyst program have essentially blacklisted the story because it reflects so poorly on them. That tells us everything about the pathetic state of TV journalism; it's basically an oxymoron.

So many problems have been set in motion in this country for so long that I have a hard time believing that things will get any better with a new president. Do you think government controlled media will come to an end? What do you see for the future?A handful of big corporations dominate the mainstream media, and TV is where most Americans get most of their news. TV news generally avoids criticism of their advertisers, and they pander to the government especially on stories of war and foreign policy. TV concentrates on the celebrity culture, sensationalism, horror, pet stories and fluff that will glue eyes to the tube and reap dollars from advertisers. It is a terrible medium for education but a devastating means of dumbing-down and propagandizing a nation. This situation is only getting worse. For critical thinkers the online media can provide a tremendous amount of information, as long as we can win and maintain a "net neutrality" so that little websites like www.PRWatch.org can be as easily found in online searches as corporate and government sites. This sort of level playing field allows people access to a wide variety of information that is blocked out of the mainstream media because it challenges the powers that be. In my clouded crystal ball I unfortunately see a decade or more of hellacious interlocked global crises -- energy, environment, food, population, extremes of wealth and poverty, political fanaticism, nuclear proliferation, toxic pollution -- creating a period like the Great Depression and World War II, but a 21st century version. That's a gloomy forecast, but we've spent the past decades breeding some really nasty problems and they are coming home to roost, big time. It will require average people rising up and working for fundamental change to address these crises, and that's one reason why I love the Iraq Veterans Against the War, they are the sort of brave young leaders we need more of.

I try to inform myself as much as I can with not only American politics, but also world issues. How do you manage to do it and do you ever become overwhelmed with the enormity of it all?I'm incredibly lucky because I actually get paid by my non-profit organization to work with nine brilliant colleagues who attempt to understand, communicate, and address the truth about these issues. Yes, I can become overwhelmed, but that's when I pull back and find time to go the country, listen to the Ipod (stuck in the music of the 60s) and read some books. It's very important that we take care of ourselves and each other.

What news sources would you recommend for people seeking objective, unembedded news?As my friend journalist Mark Dowie would say, 'objective news' is a myth. Everyone has a point of view. Accurate, fair and documented information with a clear transparency in terms of sources and biases is much better than the 'neutral point of view' concept which is really another oxymoron. I like feeding terms into search engines like Google, and I like looking at the news that is most censored out of the mainstream US media, news from reputable journalists on the left side of the spectrum easily found aggregated on Common Dreams, on Democracy Now, and at Alternet. When you find a good journalist like David Barstow at the New York Times, it's worth putting a Google alert on his name and following his reporting. The present and future of information is online, and its important to support Free Press and other groups fighting for media reform.

What brings you comfort and joy?I'm a simple guy and I love being in the North Woods canoeing, hiking in the mountains, kayaking or snorkeling on a beach, traveling by bus with my wife in Mexico, walking with the dog. Part of me could drop out and be that nature boy I was living off the land in my early twenties in the woods in northern Wisconsin. I love seeing and knowing people who are happy in their work, who are salt of the Earth and care for each other, and who are solidly on the side of the underdog in a world where the wealthy few dominate our media and our economic and political lives. I love people who really care for other people and who value the simple pleasures and the basic rights common to us all. The revolution will not be televised, but it can be lived.

Monday, April 28, 2008


I recently heard about this website via PBS. It's called PRwatch.org and is done by the people at the Center for Media and Democracy. "The Center for Media and Democracy is a non-profit, non-partisan, public interest organization that strengthens participatory democracy by investigating and exposing public relations spin and propaganda, and by promoting media literacy and citizen journalism." (graphic courtesy of PRwatch.org)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Jill Bolte Tayor: My Stroke of Insight

I just came across this amazing talk by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a neuroanatomist who had a stroke and came to some interesting insights into not just how the brain works, but also who we really are. If this video doesn't play, the link is at TED.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Oh So Loverly...

Vlad Studios is my new favorite place to get desktop pictures. If you're looking to spruce up your computer, this is the place to go. Vlad Gerasimov is an amazing digital artist who has chosen to share his wonderfully whimsical wallpapers with us and I am ever so grateful! (My laptop is too!) (graphic courtesy of Vlad!)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

An open letter to Mother Earth

Dear Mother Nature,

You must think human beings are ridiculous for designating specific days for different behaviors. We have Valentine's Day for showing people that we love them, Thanksgiving Day for expressing appreciation and now Earth Day for healing you. Why do we do this? Isn't everyday Mother's Day and Christmas too?

I know I speak for many people when I say that we really try our best to keep you in our thoughts and be considerate of your feelings. We have the best intentions, but so often let our selfish desires get in the way.

I want to let you know that we love you and we need you. We need the feel of the cool grass under our bare feet on a summers day. We need the profound silence that a winter snowstorm brings. We need the nourishing sweet potatoes you bear in Autumn. We even need the scary, droning buzz of the wasps.

We are all here. All of us from the bee to the shark to the bacteria that makes us ill. How could we have forgotten how dependent we are on each other? How could we have forgotten you? Please accept my apology for our centuries of thoughtlessness and cruelty. We're better than this.

I promise from now on to think of your needs and put them first. Please forgive us.

Be well,

(graphic courtesy of Stock Illustration Source)

Monday, April 7, 2008

Interview: Sharing Compassion

This interview is with Matt from the Share Compassion blog. In addition to supporting and volunteering with organizations, he also works hard through his blog to bring us stories about people who are using their lives to help others. (graphic courtesy of Sharecompassion)
Whenever I hear the word philanthropy I envision the wealthy giving money to the needy. I'd appreciate it if you could give me a broader and more enlightening definition of what you do and what philanthropy involves.
The word Philanthropy derives from the Greek philos, “love”, and anthropos, “mankind”, and thus means “a love for mankind” - most people associate Philanthropy to giving large amounts of money to charitable organizations, but in fact anyone who gives their time or money to a charitable organization or cause, can be considered a Philanthropist. Volunteering your time, is equal to donating your money, probably more effective as well.

As far as what I do, or the purpose of my blog, I attempt to shed a little light on the positive things that are going on around the world. So often we hear only about the negative, and when we hear about charitable organizations, it is usually followed up by news of scams or other criminal activity. I think it is important for people to see the world as hopeful and not a terrible, negative place.
I try to stay up to date on world issues, but sometimes feel overwhelmed by the enormity of it all. How do you stay focused and positive?
That is a good question, I see both the good and the bad, for me it is not about the glass half empty, or the glass half full.. it is about filling the glass up. When I see the negative in the world, it just makes me want to work harder, it motivates me.

I've always been interested in fundraising and how it's done. What does fundraising involve and what are the challenges associated with it?
Fundraising is becoming more and more internet based everyday. How it works, is in the word - Fund-raising, it is the act of acquiring money from many sources for charitable causes. The challenge is getting people to donate in the first place.

I find that I have to sometimes remind or outright tell myself to be compassionate. What steps do you take to bring compassion for others into your life?
I would be lying if I said I never felt anger towards people, but I also know that those feelings of hate or bitterness, solve nothing. Compassion is something we all must work on, everyday. It is not something that comes naturally to us. When someone being rude, or hurtful - try and imagine how sad or angry they must feel inside, and be thankful that you do not feel that way. In the end, those people are the victims, because they have to live with themselves, we only have to see them occasionally.

What brings you comfort and joy?
What brings me joy, is seeing people care for each other, seeing the compassion of a stranger, seeing someone hold the door open for another person. Simple love for humanity, makes me happy.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Interview: 37 Days

Whether we acknowledge it or not, discrimination touches the life of everyone, not just minorities. As scary as it can be, it's incredibly important that we not turn away from conversations concerning this subject, but rather work to mindfully connect with people we think we don't understand. I'm so excited to have had the opportunity to speak with Patti Digh of 37days about this very important work that needs doing. (graphic courtesy of 37days)As a person of color, your blog renews me in a way that I can't even put into words. Every time I have an encounter with a white person that not only treats me the way they treat their friends, but is actually happy to see me, a little more of my life force comes back to me. How did you become not only interested in issues of racial discrimination and The Circle Project, but also make it a life precept?
First, I’m so sorry that the experience you describe—of being treated with joy and a welcoming heart by white people—isn’t your usual experience. That you experience something other than that, something that reduces your life force, pains me greatly.

Secondly, thank you for those very kind words. I’m glad 37days is a source of renewal for you – renewal is such a big, important word, particularly in a fast-paced world bent on achievement and action instead. So, many thanks for those words.
There were two primary catalysts for my lifelong commitment to race issues:
When I was sixteen, I got on an airplane for the very first time and flew 12,000 miles to live in Sri Lanka with a Sinhalese family in a small village called Pita Kotte. I was an exchange student there—a very young, very white, very freckled and red-haired girl in a sea of beautiful brown. I stood out, as you can imagine. The principal of the school I attended—Museus Buddhist Girls’ College—stared at me intently during my first meeting with her, finally asking at the end of our interview if they hurt, pointing to my freckles. I learned so much from that experience—about myself in the world, and about the world outside myself. One of the things that I recognized immediately was that while the people around me looked very different from me—and lived very differently from me—underneath all that difference was a solid core of similarity, of shared humanity, of loves and heartaches and desires and pains and secrets that were far more similar than different. That was a very big lesson to learn at such a young age. While I believe I must have intuitively felt that earlier in my life—which is why I describe it as “recognition”—that experience literally changed my life. I can point directly to that time living in Sri Lanka as having framed my interest in cross-cultural and international issues, which is where I first entered the world of work after graduate school, working in an association that dealt with international education issues, and primarily in the developing world.
The other experience that most shaped my worldview relative to race was falling deeply in love with a man in college who was black—I am Caucasian. The year was 1979 and the town was Greensboro, North Carolina. Some might remember that the Greensboro Massacre took place in 1979—an event in which five people were shot in the streets by KKK members. Shot in the streets. Richard and I lived not two miles from there. So, as you can imagine, our relationship wasn’t well received in such a place, in such a time. I was honestly shocked by the reaction of those around us—a statement that reveals so much about the white privilege I had enjoyed until that time. Our college campus, Guilford College, was our safe haven in a storm of racism that awaited us on the streets of Greensboro. Richard wasn’t accepted by my family either. It was a very difficult time, a time during which my father died in the midst of that estrangement. Everything surrounding that period in my life confirmed to me that this was my work to do in the world, to explore my own privilege and racism (and other isms) and to help others do the same. I knew that I was in service to this work, from that moment on.
Years ago, a friend who is white asked me why black people liked living in such bad conditions. The first thing I thought was that the answer to that question is very complicated. I then felt myself getting impatient because I find that I (as well as other groups of people) constantly end up explaining things concerning race that aren't necessarily only facts, but quite often just my opinion. In the end, I took the lazy way out and said I didn't know. What do you think is the most considerate and effective way to connect deeply with people when there is no easy answer?
What a great, complex question. I think at some point in our lives we must decide what is ours to do, and what is not ours to do. Perhaps it is not yours to do, to answer every question about what it is to be a person of color. It doesn’t have to be yours to do, any more than it is mine to answer questions about the wide scope of white experience from my limited perspective.
The very fact that people of color get asked these questions—while in most cases white people do not—reveals some of our thinking about race, doesn’t it? The Other always seems a monolithic entity, while we afford ourselves the position of the differentiated, the individualized. That we presume we can ask any black person to be our cultural informant for what it is to be black, but couldn’t imagine being asked, ourselves, to speak for all white people—we have to understand what that means before we can go farther in our dialogues about race, I believe.
Also, I’m always struck by the ways in which we—particularly in this culture—look for quick, short-term answers to issues as complex as race. These are wicked, complex problems onto which we consistently try to impose tame solutions. It is easier to ask for the “ten hints for dealing with people of color” than it is to spend years building relationships from which real learning and insight (about us and them) can emerge. And yet anytime we stay outside of a culture, we look at the people in it as “whats” not “whos,” a tame solution that not only doesn’t address the wicked problem, but actually obfuscates that it is a wicked problem to begin with…
I know that you don't speak for everyone, but what do you think is the most pressing issue that white people have with black people and how can I help address this?
I believe that even well-intended white people are paralyzed by the feeling that they are damned if they do and damned if they don’t when it comes to race—that if everything is seen through the lens of race and racism, there is no space left on that ledge for turning around, going back in, sitting down to talk about it. For example, a colleague recently wanted to increase the diversity on his Board, and so invited a black colleague to join the group. At the first meeting, that new member angrily told the group he felt like a token. These are so often right vs right dilemmas, not right vs wrong dilemmas—but we don’t seem to be equipped for that. Our method of dealing with race is too often to set up what we call dialogues but whose primary intention is to negate the other. Maybe we could all try to give up our attachment to being right to see if that might work. Perhaps on both sides of equations like that we could move toward constructive dialogue by simply assuming positive intent first. Even if we are tired, even if we are sure the intent isn’t positive, even if the person or institution is racist, I wonder if simply assuming positive intent—on both sides—might revolutionize our national dialogue about race.
I wonder if we spend so much time disavowing that we are racists that there’s no time left for owning up to the fact that we all discriminate, on both sides of the equation and even inside each side of the equation. Perhaps if we spend more time noticing our first thought and working on our second than trying not to have that first thought in the first place, we’d be better able to move forward—together.

How do you deal with the challenge of self acceptance?
I’ve been working really hard the past three years to own up to the disconnect between what my bio says and what I feel inside. I think sometimes we stay busy to avoid the conversations we need to have with ourselves. It’s so easy to look outside of ourselves for approval—I do that in so many, many ways—ways I don’t even yet recognize, patterns that I cannot yet see. When asked to do something new, do I decide based on what I want and need to do, or based on what will look good on my bio? I’m trying to get to the point that
Eve Ensler talks about, not waiting for permission, but believing we are good enough, from the inside out, not the other way around.What is your biggest fear and how do you face it?
Here’s what my gut told me the moment I read this question, so I’ll go with it: My biggest fear is that something bad will happen to my two daughters, Emma and Tess, and I won’t be able to stop it. I face it by preparing them to live without me, which was the genesis for my blog. I wanted to write an instruction manual for life that they could have after I’m gone. Not about how to steam an artichoke, but about how to love and accept love, how to stand up for what they believe without being attached to being right, how to say yes to life, and how to extend the same level of humanity to others that they extend to themselves.Sometimes I'm content with my life, other times I feel so disappointed with it. I was given the gift of learning firsthand years ago that it's not possible to live someone else's life. How do you see your life for what it truly is and still make peace with it?
Many days, I see life as miraculous. Some days, I don’t feel that way—when people disappoint me or I disappoint them, when kids are cranky and so am I, when I think I’ll scream if I have to wash one more fork. And some days, I feel such panic at having wasted so much time. It took me all my life to get to this point of writing in my true voice. I have moments of depression when I feel regret at having not gotten to that point earlier, at all those years of moving papers around inside organizations, writing business books that weren’t really my work in the world. It is very easy, I believe, to keep doing something because you are good at it, not because it is your passion. But I realize I couldn’t have gotten to this point of real clarity without all I have done and seen and experienced. I’ve decided to risk my significance in different ways now–as a mother, most of all, above all.
What are the similarities and differences you find in people when traveling around the world?
What we value and love and cherish and fear is all the same—everywhere. I’ve lived and worked and traveled in over 70 countries in my years on this planet and in every single place, we share deep, deep needs and wants.
What is different is our expression of those values and loves and fears—sometimes the expressions or behaviors that express those core humanities are so vastly different that we get confused and believe the underlying values are vastly different, too. But they are not.
What do people from other countries think of Americans?
I get a regular lesson in humility when I hear the perspective of my friends from around the world on our country. Any of us outside a system (or country) looking in are put in a position of judging other people’s outsides from our insides, a process that by its very definition leads to over-simplification and misunderstanding, doesn’t it? We’re not playing well on the world scene; our very high national esteem (ahem, arrogance) gets in the way of our ability to build healthy relationships. What we could use, I believe, is a lesson in cultural humility. There’s a lot we could learn from others in the world, but we’re blinded to that learning. For my first book, we interviewed almost 80 CEOs from 30 countries, including a CEO from Bangladesh. People laughed—what can we learn from Bangladesh, they said. That CEO from Bangladesh was Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus. We Americans are blinded by our standard of living, not realizing it has cut us of from curiosity and relationship. We need to cultivate moral imagination.
What brings you comfort and joy?
I am most comforted by simple expressions of relationship and care and love and humanity. By people who see a man falling and stop to catch him, even though they don’t know him. By people who are generous when giving is their only reward. As for joy, the greatest source of that in my life are my two daughters, Emma and Tess. They fill up all the chambers of my heart and the whole solar system of my soul. I’m also quite fond of the sound of rain on a tin roof, ginger chews, k.d. lang singing ‘hallelujah,’ the novels of Richard Powers, and the poetry of Billy Collins.

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More