n. 1. the ideal made real (derived
worldview based on universal compassion
World is Being Blogged
Blog Archive, June 9, 2007-February 21, 2008
(For current posts, click on Topia.net Home)
Thursday, February 21, 2008
No, You Can't--No Se Puede In the interest of providing equal time for the voices of the powerful and the few.... Video source: lessjobsmorewars
Sunday, February 2, 2008
Barack Obama for President
This is supposed to be a blog and a website not about partisan politics but about idealism and hope for a better world--and that is as good a reason as any to support Barack Obama for President.
It has been said many times by many people over the past months that Obama represents a different kind of politics than we have seen for some time, one that unabashadly embraces both the ideals and the dreams of America at its best. Obama is deeply commited to a politics of hope and idealism--and not just any ideals, but those of inclusion, human rights, peace, and social justice.
Video: Barack Obama speaks in Los Angeles on January 31, 2008, on creating social justice and overcoming racial, ethnic, and political divides as the "cause of my life."
If elected, Obama would at minimum turn around the Politics of Wrong Direction that has characterized the last eight years. As he said recently while campaigning in Iowa, "“When I am this party's nominee, my opponent will not be able to say that I voted for the war in Iraq; or that I gave George Bush the benefit of the doubt on Iran; or that I supported Bush-Cheney policies of not talking to leaders that we don't like. And he will not be able to say that I wavered on something as fundamental as whether or not it is ok for America to torture — because it is never ok… I will end the war in Iraq… I will close Guantanamo. I will restore habeas corpus....And I will send once more a message to those yearning faces beyond our shores that says, 'You matter to us. Your future is our future.'" There is no question that he is fully capable of assuming the responsibilities of the presidency on day one, and beginning to turn the country around.
Video: Yes, We Can by will.i.am
Voting for Obama would not be just about electing the first biracial American president--though doing so would send an electrifying message to the world (and to ourselves) that the country has taken a giant step beyond its history and legacy of racism. The most important reason to support Obama is not the color of his skin but the content of his character.
The more one watches and listens to him, and examines his platform for change, the more one grasps the unique qualities of that character. As Senator Ted Kennedy summed up these qualities in his January 28 endorsement speech (see above), Obama is "a leader who sees the world clearly without being cynical. He is a fighter who cares passionately about the causes he believes in, without demonizing those who hold a different view. He is tough-minded, but he also has an uncommon capacity to appeal to 'the better angels of our nature.'" Obama inspires not because he is eloquent, but because who he is, and the changes he proposes, are inspiring.
Video: Ted Kennedy's powerful endorsement of Barack Obama
Obama has shown himself to be one of those leaders who lifts people up on a grand scale, who inspires them to action in the service of the greater good. In this, he has demonstrated the potential to be not just a president, but a genuine world leader, in the sense that Nelson Mandela and the Dalai Lama are world leaders. That is, perhaps, projecting an awful lot into him. But, if there is even some reasonable chance that such could be the case, it is most certainly worth the roll of the dice.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Iraqi Teenagers Send Messages of Peace in a Bottle
A day after the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, here is the story of Iraqi teenager Taha Nawaf of Fallujah, whose father and uncle were killed in sectarian violence there and who has organized fellow teenagers in a powerful nonviolent symbolic response.
Image and Story Source: CNN.com. Click on any image to see entire CNN video story.
Taha and his compatriots write and draw messages for peace among Sunni, Shiite and Kurd factions, and place them in bottles.
When they have each created messages in four bottles, they march together to a bridge over the Euphrates River, and throw the bottles into the river, from there to flow from their own Sunni neighborhood to Shiite and Kurd communities downstream.
Image and Story Source: CNN.com. Click on any image to see entire CNN video story.
Below is a video of Nobel Peace Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the elected Prime Minister of Burma (kept from office and under house arrest by the Burmese military junta), explaining the Burmese pro-democracy movement's commitment to nonviolence:
Nobel Peace Laureate and elected Burmese Prime Minister Aung San Suu Kyi
Video Source: Nancatube
Saturday, October 6, 2007 A World of Support for Burma's Saffron Revolution
Though the Burmese military junta has all but blocked outside media coverage and shut off internet service within the country, websites, blogs, and mass emails have continued to provide a vehicle for news of events there to reach the world, and for people to show support for the Saffron Revolution. The most well-known of the unofficial sources transmitting such information is Ko Htike's blog, which provides photos, reports and videos smuggled out of Burma.
Protest is coming in many forms. One email circulating widely calls for people to jam the ticket office for the Beijing 2008 Olympics with requests for immediate Chinese action on Burma, since China is one of Burma's largest trading partners and as a member of the UN Security Council is blocking international action: "If everybody we know emails a request (not for tickets, but for China's action for Burma) to email@example.com, it will significantly slow down Olympics ticket sales and call China's attention to the matter. China may ignore protests, hunger strikes, petitions, wearing-red shirts, etc. But China cannot ignore these emails, which get in the way of processing Olympics ticket requests."
Another way to show support for the Burmese democracy movement is to Boycott Chevron, whose natural gas pipeline partnership with the Burmese junta provides essential support to the regime. You can also communicate directly to Chevron at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Burma Campaign UK website provides a broader "dirty list" of companies with business ties to Burma.
Another website, the People's Email Network, lets you tell members of the US Congress that urgent action is needed on Burma. The site calls for action "to freeze the assets of the military junta and urge all international banks to bar any monetary transfers in the interim...(and)...for an international peace keeping force under the aegis of the U.N. to protect the people of Myanmar...."
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
"I Wish I Knew How it Would Feel to be Free / One Love"
It's my birthday today (don't ask), so I thought I'd just share a favorite movie scene and a favorite music video (if you play them both together as a mashup, the Coldplay song becomes a great soundtrack for the film scene.)
"The Bag Scene" from American Beauty
Fix You by Coldplay
Thursday, July 5, 2007
A Movement of Movements:
First US Social Forum a Historic Event
(This posting also appears as an article in Tikkun Magazine (Online Exclusive), July/August, 2007; Reprinted in Lewica.pl (Polish language political journal), August 13, 2007.
A "movement of movements" was born last week in the United States. The first US Social Forum took place from June 27-July 1 in Atlanta, Georgia, a city chosen by organizers for its historical resonance with the US Civil Rights movement. The Forum brought together 10,000 participants from around the country and beyond.
The best way to describe the Social Forum process is if one imagines that thousands of people from around the country separately took upon themselves the assignment of creating one piece of a sustainable, peaceful, just, spiritual and harmonious world order, and then came together to see how their ideas, plans, and projects could be linked together into a larger vision and movement.
The US Forum grew out of the larger World Social Forum process, begun in 2001 in Porto Alegre, Brazil, and which has now crystallized into local, regional, and national manifestations all over the world.
The purpose of the Forums, as defined in the World Social Forum Charter of Principles, is to be "an open meeting place for reflective thinking, democratic debate of ideas, formulation of proposals, freer exchange of experiences and interlinking for effective action, by groups and movements of civil society that are opposed to neoliberalism (corporate-led globalization)...and are committed to building a planetary society directed towards fruitful relationships among Humankind and between it and the Earth."
One of the striking elements of the first US Social Forum was the diversity of its participants. The peace and counter-globalization movements in the United States are often criticized for being too narrowly white and middle class. This was not the case in Atlanta. Blacks, Latinos/Latinas, Native Americans, Asians, indigenous peoples from around the world, new immigrants, and poor and homeless people, were all prominently represented in the gathering, as were labor, LGBTQ people, women, young people, and seniors.
The Forums are all about making connections--between people, ideas, problems and solutions, between forms of oppression, and between forms of liberation. To give just one example, the Forum promoted projects for growing and consuming organic food at the local level, which is healthier for those who eat it, displaces fewer local farmers than agribusiness, and reduces the energy costs of transporting food long distances, which in turn eliminates the "need" for bioengineering of crops to preserve shelf and transportation life.
The Forums focus beyond protesting grievances to the creation of alternatives. As Nichola Torbett of the Network of Spiritual Progressives pointed out at one of the Peace Caucus sessions, "Martin Luther King, Jr. didn't inspire a movement by declaring, 'I have a complaint.'" While many of the Atlanta meetings focused on confronting or preventing injustices and exploitation of various kinds, many more involved constructive building of new institutions, practices, infrastructures, and policies that together affirm a broader vision of a sustainable, peaceful, nonviolent, humane, and just world.
The innovative responses offered in the nearly 1,000 workshops, panels, caucuses, and plenary sessions to the local-to-global social, political and economic and ecological problems they addressed, was one the Forum's principal strengths. For example, it was not seen as sufficient to merely protest the Bush Administration's conduct of the "war" against "Islamofascism," but instead to also create alternative initiatives such as the Fellowship of Reconciliation's "citizen diplomacy" peacemaking delegations to Iran, which are particularly daring in light of the fact that four Iranian-American US citizens are currently being held without charge by the Iranian government.
The Social Forum process is unlike anything else. It is not a convention or demonstration, though it has elements of both. The Forums bring together different types of people working toward a common goal--people who might not, without the Forums, have opportunity to connect. So, it creates an opportunity for immense cross-fertilization. Just as all the great cities of the world are cross-roads cities, because they allow for an intermingling of cultures that provides opportunities for the intellectual and cultural cross-breeding out of which social innovations are born, so the Social Forums create a cross-roads between people from different movements and places, and so they become places of tremendous social ferment.
Photo: US Social Forum participants gather at Atlanta Civic Center
The networking between individuals, organizations, cultures and movements that takes place gives rise to novel shared understandings among the participants. As Mathew Smucker, of the War Resisters League, suggested in one of the workshops, the Forum allows participants an opportunity to see beyond their own organizations and efforts and begin to "think like a movement." As a result, participants could begin to see and feel, if only in faintest form, the outlines of the "other possible world" that the Forums and the movements they represent are attempting to create. In a world of so much disconnection and despair, this is an enormous source of hope and inspiration. There was an electricity in the air in Atlanta that occurs only when history is being made and people know they are making it.
Video: Alice Lovelace, National Lead Staff Organizer, U.S. Social Forum, gives closing comments at final session of the Forum: "All we want to know is where is it going to be next." Video source: topiadotnet.
The first US Social Forum represents a historic advance in the process of building a truly global civil society that, in turn, is a necessary step toward creating an eventual global democracy. That the major corporate media chose to consider this a non-event and give it practically no coverage at all means nothing in terms of the historical importance of what occurred in Atlanta last week. History is commonly made before it is recognized by the mass media, and roots of movements often grow beneath the visible soil before sprouting and becoming recognizable to mainstream society.
"Another world is possible" is not just a slogan. The Social Forum process is helping to create a movement of movements to make that other world become a reality.
Monday, June 11, 2007
US Social Forum: June 27 - July 1, Atlanta, Georgia
Another World is Being Born
by Joel Federman
November 8, 2006-May 12, 2007
Mother's Day for Peace
A Bit of Wishful Thinking: George Bush Sings "Imagine"
What We Protest For: A Soldier Returns Home
Al Gore on our "Planetary Emergency"
A Call for Cease-Fire in Iraq
Thousands March Against the War in Iraq
World Social Forum Opens in Nairobi, Kenya
Impeach, Nancy, Impeach!
American Deemocracy Affirmedq
February 23, 2005 - September 21, 2005
Ways to Help After Hurricane Katrina
Direct Reports from Camp Casey on the Road
Letters from Fort Lewis by Kevin Benderman
Kevin Benderman: The "Real Deal"
Joel Federman Joel Federman Joel Federman Joel Federman January 28, 2005-February 7, 2005
Media Coverage of
Davos vs. Porto Alegre Shows Elitist Bias
More News from the World Social Forum
100,000 Activists Gather to Build Another World:
fjfjfMajor Media Ignore Story
Links to Another World:
Voices You May Not Have Heard
The Freecycle Network™ is made up of 4,698 groups with 6,506,000 members across the globe. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by a local volunteer. Membership is free.
In recent months, the threat of proliferation and nuclear terrorism has led to a growing chorus of leaders calling for the elimination of all nuclear weapons.
Global Zero, launched December 9, 2008, will support these leaders in this endeavor by combining high-level policy work with global public outreach to achieve a comprehensive agreement to eliminate all nuclear weapons worldwide through phased and verified reductions.
The Resist Network: Creating a Documentary Film on Global Change
Resist is a documentary film-in-the-making about economic and social injustice around the world and the people who are challenging it. Director Marc Silver, who has produced documentaries for the BBC and Channel 4 in Britain, has enlisted actor Gael Garcia Bernal to interview global change activists, including Noam Chomsky (see below), Naomi Klein and John Berger.
One of the most innovative aspects of the project is that Silver has created an online forum, the Resist Network, that will inform the production itself. Participation in the Resist Network is an opportunity to help shape both the documentary and the movement it describes.
Clip from Resist interview with Noam Chomsky: "The Answer is in You"
of the World's Religions 2009
Authoritarian religion may be on the rise politically around
the world, but so is a more inclusive vision. The theme of the 2009 Parliament of the World's Religions, "Make a World of Difference: Hearing Each Other, Healing the Earth," underscores the opportunity for religious and spiritual communities and all people of good will to act on environmental concerns and take responsibility for cultivating awareness of our global interconnectedness. Click above for a link to the Parliament
of the World's Religions, and click
here for links to other ongoing efforts of this kind.
Reporters Without BordersandTeam Tibet Reporters Without Borders provides continuing coverage of human rights issues related to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.
Exiled Tibetan athletes and their worldwide supporters are gathering under the banner of Team Tibet to demand real and lasting political change in Tibet. Team Tibet aims to become a global movement and represent Tibetans and their supporters, including professional athletes and public figures. Team Tibet aims to make Olympic history, calling on China to live up to its self- proclaimed support of the Olympic ideal, by effecting positive change in Tibet.
Share The World's Resources
Share The World's Resources (STWR) is an nongovernmental organization (NGO) campaigning for global economic and social justice. STWR Global Focus presents information about why the world economy needs reforming and how a system based on the principle of sharing can prevent 50,000 people dying from poverty every day. The latest news, analysis and videos on these issues can be found on the organization's website.
The Sustainable Living Roadshow
Begun in Spring 2007, the Sustainable Living Roadshow (SLR) is comprised of experienced educators, activists and entertainers who tour university campuses and community events throughout the United States and internationally in a fleet of non-petroleum based renewable fuel vehicles. Theys set up off-the-grid, zero-waste experiential learning villages, featuring workshops, speakers, sustainability exhibits and entertainment which demonstrate practical solutions to social and environmental issues created by our modern industrial society.
Nonviolent Regime Change Computer Game
A Force More Powerful is a computer game that teaches activists and leaders of nonviolent resistance and opposition movements how to fight real-world adversaries—dictators, military occupiers and corrupt rulers, using methods that have succeeded in actual conflicts—not with laser rays or AK47s, but with non-military strategies and nonviolent weapons.
Katrina Information Networkand Rebuild Green The Katrina Information Network and Rebuild Green provide social justice and environmental perspectives on the Katrina relief effort.
site's sole purpose is to try to save lives by helping
stop the genocide in Darfur. It empowers you to take smart,
strategic actions to compel those in power to act through
international petitions or local events. It provides access
to the best, most relevant and most up-to-date information
available. www.savedarfur.org is a similar website.
Peaceful societies are contemporary groups of people who
effectively foster interpersonal harmony and who rarely
permit violence or warfare to interfere with their lives.
The Peaceful Societies website serves to introduce these
societies to students, peace activists, scholars and citizens
who are interested in the conditions that promote peacefulness.
It includes information on the beliefs of these peoples,
the ways they maintain their nonviolence, and the factors
that challenge their lifestyles.
Appeal to Global Conscience Signed
by leaders of the American peace movement, this appeal,
posted on Alternet, speaks for 40 million Americans
who say the United States should immediately withdraw
from the war in Iraq.
Know I Was) UnAmerican This is a powerful song
and video by musician Ian Rhett, expressing pretty much
everything that topia.net is all about. A cross between
John Lennon's "Imagine" and one of Bob Dylan's
early protest songs.
Global Rich List Position
This website provides a calculator that allows you to
determine your annual income relative to the rest of the
world. By entering your annual income, and clicking on
the calculator, it gives you the following read-out, with
specific dollar figures where the xxx's are: "You
are in the top xx% richest people in the world. There
are x,xxx,xxx,xxx people poorer than you. How do you feel
about that? A bit richer we hope. Please consider donating
just a small amount to help some of the poorest people
in the world."
Idealist.org and Opportunitynocs.org
Want to make a career of changing the world? Idealist.org
and Opportunitynocs.org provide thousands of prosocial job
listings, mostly in nonprofit organizations, according to
city/state/country and job type.
The Better World Handbook is a guide for the average person
wanting to make a positive difference in the world. The
book provides hundreds of examples of practical, effective
actions you can take to make a positive difference in the
world. These actions are aimed at realizing the following
values: Economic Fairness; Comprehensive Peace; Ecological
Sustainability; Deep Democracy; Social Justice; Culture
of Simplicity; and Revitalized Community.