All posts filed under: activism

Economy of insanity and apples

Imagine for a moment a world where the currency of choice is apples. It is something that grows freely without a lot of effort from humans. Plant a tree, wait 10-20 years, then harvest. Depending on your level of ambition you can harvest just enough or a lot. But the thing about apples is that they rot. Maybe in a temperature controlled cellar they can last a few years, but hoarding apples eventually becomes an exercise in futility because who would want your old shriveled apples when they can just pick fresh ones from outside? So, in this economy, you are left with three choices: eat the apples, trade the apples, and give away your extras because soon they will become worthless to everyone, including yourself. Are you with me so far? What do you think would be the guiding principle in such a world? Sharing, of course. Since your apples are no good to you hidden away in a basement left to rot, the most efficient use of them would be to give them …

Brainstorming for Sustainability: Social media is mass hysteria?

I came across this interesting little brain nugget that asked ‘Is Social Media a new form of mass hysteria?’ and now I can’t shake that idea. Being a child of the internet the evolution of social media never seemed like a big deal to me. From 90’s message boards, to LiveJournal, to MySpace, to YouTube, to Facebook, to Instagram and everything that came and went in between, I just seized it, used it, and disregarded whatever didn’t suit me. But when you really sit down to think about it, social media has, and constantly is, changing our lives drastically. It is how we keep in touch with friends and non-friends, how we get our news, stay involved with our particular interests, share pictures and opinions, and in essence, shape our image. But we also shape ourselves.

You are not useless, but the society that tells you so is

I think what makes me the most sad to read on my Facebook feed is not the stories about how corrupt and useless politicians and corporations are. I already know that, most people know that. But to see how cruel and heartless ordinary people can be in the comment fields underneath these stories is depressing. Our society, this system, is breaking down at record speed. Environmental destruction, economic collapse and massive overpopulation that leaves the value of human life near zero. You don’t need a fancy degree to understand that a system which leaves this many people in poverty and despair is a flawed one. It is so disheartening to see so many so-called successful people call everyone else that isn’t at their level lazy and entitled. I just read an article about an immigrant boy with three degrees at age 25 cleaning toilets in a foreign land because his own country is in economic ruin due to the game of criminal bankers. And he is only one in millions. Millions. And most of the …

Noun: Sanity (good sense, soundness of judgment or reason)

I was too young to really understand all the variables leading up to the Iraq invasion in 2003, but in 2013 I don’t have that excuse. I believe that Syria is our generation’s Vietnam war, and now is the time to decide what side of history you want to stand on. Only this time, the repercussions are truly global. On one hand you have “western” proxy governments ruled by a handful of multinational corporations that profit from war, environmental catastrophes and keeping the global workforce in poverty. Add to that a bloated military that costs over $600 billion a year and suddenly the need for perpetual war doesn’t seem so far-fetched. And the most incredulous part? This is still considered by most to be the “right” side. Because it is the side backed by media and the people in power. I could write a whole dissertation on why humans apparently crave hierarchies and why we see to have an almost worship-like mentality towards those who mange to climb to the top. Most herd or pack …

Truthseeker or information junkie?

I love the internet. I really do. Before the internet our access to information was rather limited. I have given myself the challenge to ‘unlearn’ historic truths that we just take for granted because our fifth grade teacher told us so. We are, for obvious and time-saving reasons, indoctrinated into a certain world view from an early age. Here are the good guys, these are the bad guys, and here’s why and how this war was fought. Usually the good guys win and our worldview remains safe and orderly. We can even illustrate it in a nice little chart.

World Refugee Day 2013

June 20 is World Refugee Day. This year a report from the UN’s Refugee Agency, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), says global forced displacement is at an 18-year high, with 45 million people displaced from their homes in 2012. That number includes the over 15 million refugees (people who have fled across borders) and almost 30 millions internally displaced people (IDPs) who were forced to flee their homes but remain in the country. More recent displacements from Syria are not part of this statistic so next year’s report is sure to look even grimmer.

Orwell and good in the land of the free

Wow, a lot has happened to the stories we tell ourselves this past week! Another layer peeled from the onion that makes up our reality. I have to admit, I don’t pay too much attention to whistle-blower scandals but when journalists like Chris Hedges and the good people over at Truthdig flood their headlines with the name Edward Snowden I just have to know what the fuss is about. Turns out the fuss was pretty major. On June 8, Americans learned that the National Security Agency has been collecting the telephone records of millions of U.S. customers of the telecommunication giant Verizon. It was revealed that the NSA claims internally that it has been using a top-secret spying program called PRISM to gain direct access to personal data belonging to customers of top Internet companies, including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple and Yahoo. Those revelations came to us courtesy of 29-year-old Edward Snowden, a former CIA employee who currently works for NSA outside defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton. And as The Guardian noted, “Snowden will go …

March Against Monsanto: Hawaii (NO GMO)

The global March Against Monsanto, a rally against genetically modified food, took place on May 25 in 52 countries and 436 cities across the world. I was in Waikiki, Hawaii. The energy was just incredible from the moment you joined the crowd. Among luxury retailers and immaculate sidewalks over 1000 protesters took over the busy street around noon on Saturday. It was hard to estimate the number of people until the rally started marching but I do think it was well over one thousand, ranging from adults, youths, kids and some people didn’t even let injuries stop them and came in wheelchairs. It was truly a Hawaiian celebration. Signs like ‘GMOs in Hawaii – we ain’t bout dat life!’, ‘Monsanto is not pono (right)’, and ‘protect our aina (land)’. Jerome James and Joel Spiral provided drums, music and slogans which turned the 90 minutes walk into a real party. If this is what the world looks like without GMOs, sign me up! Doing some in-the-streets activism with like-minded people was the perfect energy boost this …

Books, websites and media for understanding human trafficking

I got a nice comment asking if I could share some literature on human trafficking, which I’m very happy to do! I think one of the first thing I had to wrap my head around going into this research is that slavery is an economic crime rather than crimes of cruelty and malice. It is difficult to understand because one of the first questions you want to ask is ‘what kind of person could do this to another human being?’ Sure, there are sadists out there but for the most part taking advantage of people in desperate situations is an act by equally desperate people with their own sets of problems and priorities. It is a systemic problem created by inequality among people. This TED video is a good introduction about what we know about slavery today. In this moving yet pragmatic talk, Kevin Bales explains the business of modern slavery, a multibillion-dollar economy that underpins some of the worst industries on earth. He shares stats and personal stories from his on-the-ground research – and …

The value of the world

So here is a fun plot line for a movie. The world, this beautiful blue planet that has been in orbit around the sun for the past 4 billion years, has within the past 200 years racked up 40 trillion dollars in debt. Clearly, it now deserves to have its oceans poisoned, its mountains blown up, crust drilled into thousands of holes, trees cut down and transported away, and all animals that have lived quietly for millions of years deserve to be displaced because they are not contributing to the down payment of this debt. Only one thing. Who is the hero of this story? The TED community attempts to answer this question. 40 trillion dollars, oh that’s rich. Last I checked the total value of EVERYTHING ON THE PLANET was around $60 trillion but I’m sure it’s gone up a bit. Nobody should care about debt. I know theoretically why it matters, what it ~implies for nations and the finance world at large but come on, our monetary system is such a joke. Money …