Our place in history ...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A dialogue about Walmart:

To me "social justice" means more than working in the nonprofit sector, and/or working for a public or private sector firm offering services like those philanthropically funded charities are usually associated with. I agree with David Gil's assertion that most people scurry when they are pressed to define the term because a true belief in social justice requires a devoted dedication to social transformations guided by Friere's sense of "critical consciousness."

The following is the beginning of a discussion designed to achieve this very thing -- the nascent search of two well-meaning persons with different backgrounds for a manner in which to increase the purchasing power of those with limited income while championing positive human rights (e.g. living wages, complete health care coverage, toxics-free environments) workers here and in the nations manufacture the goods we consume deserve:


Friend in Southern California:

I'm not sure if you saw "Outfoxed" but the same people just made a new movie about Walmart (walmartmovie.com)


MBA student at Tuck (Dartmouth):

walmart - #4 of most admired companies according to fortune. behind dell computers, GE and starbucks.


Friend in Southern California:

according to fortune

not known for their concern for anything moral

all those other companies are evil too


especially dell who produces a shitty product and then donates $ to
republican candidates


MBA student at Tuck (Dartmouth):

how can starbucks' liquid chocolate be evil?


Friend in Southern California:

starbucks is evil for what they did to coffee houses in Mexico

and it's too bad people in queens (ny) can't have walmart


it is hard to look at a depressed area where there is nothing and say
"walmart is bad so we won't support it ever, not even here in the
hood" The bottom line is that walmart is a business and businesses do
pay taxes and hire workers. But what is the difference between one
walmart and a dozen liquor stores? From a tax and # of hires point of
view there is no difference whatsoever. This begs the question: How
do we develop the inner city knowing that the businesses we will be
able to attract are ones with problematic baggage (from a
socioeconomic justice standpoint)? Clinton pushed for empowerment
zones as part of his answer to the question. But these failed in
places like the Mississippi Delta because the local infrastructure
components were nonexistent or thoroughly flawed.


MBA student at Tuck (Dartmouth):

the wal-mart discussion continues..



Friend in Southern California:

I sent you an artcile about Wal mart opening a bank weeks ago


MBA student at Tuck (Dartmouth):

when?! i never got that article... at least i don't think i did.


Friend in Southern California:

yes, don't you remember me referencing it multiple times?

that whole statistic about the number of walmart shoppers who have no
savings accounts

the bottom line however is that walmart won't open a full savings and loan


the regulations for banks are -- as you know -- much more murky and
difficult to navigate than the world of bargain basement commercial
retail, in other words, walmart would be leaving its "core
competencies" far behind if it went into banking

walmart's leaders are evil but they are also smart enough to know that
sears ran the wolrd until it got cocky and started getting into
insurance and a lot of other strange ass things that had zip to do
with sewing machines and cheap mens suits

I'll see if I can find the original article but I have like 1,000
messages I still need to answer


MBA student at Tuck (Dartmouth):

wow...i guess i should just be appreciative that i made the cut and got not one response but two.

yes, of course i remember those accounts. the article was interesting to me not so much as an announcement of their desire to get into banking, but the author's points about the good things that wal-mart can bring to an industry. just another perspective to consider.


Friend in Southern California:

basically it all boils down to this

walmart's profit margins are big because taxpayers subsidize the company


if you subtract out emergency room care, housing assistance, nonprofit
financial assiatnce, etc. then walmart is not the superstar you think
it is -- this is like the undocumented worker debate, people want to
attack immigrants for their use of hospitals and schools, but they
don't want to admit that these are populations that use fewer
government services and nonprofit services than any other population
living in poverty -- put it this way, undocumented workers can get
hired to work in the most dangerous and difficult and tedious work by
walmart, they can then get denied health care, denied a living wage,
denied their overtime pay, sometimes even denied the full amount of
their regular time walmart salary pay and then these poor injured ill
immigrants are hunted down by the Arizona minute men milia and shot or
deported while Walmart can post record profits

Google the Arizona minute men militia


MBA student at Tuck (Dartmouth):

wow. that sounds really scary, very how the West was won

so where do we go from there? if not wal-mart, then who? what company with enough leverage would satisfy the socioeconomic justice question? for all the reasons we've discussed the downside of wal-mart, it still provides consumer staples at a price that the average population can afford. shouldn't those urban areas have access to those things? but how do you give access without the ill effects of a behemoth like that?


Friend in Southern California:

no to in bed with current govt. of china

yes to healthcare coverage

find me that company


MBA student at Tuck (Dartmouth):


china must be dealt with. i'd start learning mandarin if i were you.


Friend in Southern California:

you deal with totalitarian china your way

I'll deal with them mine

when the euros sell china weapons that they turn around and sell to iran …

let's just say I warned you ahead of time that conflict with china could
have been avoided by wrecking their economy before it finished
creating a new generation of nondemocratic wealth

conflict should be avoided because countless people suffer or die because of it

what more reason do you need to see totalitarian china as an evil state?

forced imporisonment; no democracy; human rights nightmare; tibet; taiwan...


MBA student at Tuck (Dartmouth):

sometimes conflict or even war can't be avoided in some situations

although of course its effects are horrible.

and you're right, nondemocratic china is an evil state.

Friend in Southern California:

better to have an economic war

than a real one ...

walmart could use the rest of the developing world to produce cheap goods for itself and microsoft and others could begin to take high tech industries out of asia and reposition them in a more geopolitically friendly place like the caribbean or latin america, finally we could raise the environmental standards required for chinese controlled transporters to enter north america and europe

the chinese government would not be able to survive the lack of revenue and would destabilize – but this won’t happen because walmart leads the way in only caring about how cheap the goods can be produced damn everyonr who makes them, stocks them, sells them, hell even the one who use them are not really walmart’s concern

if we can prevent the chinese from dumping weapons in middle eastern or hostle former soviet hands we might witness a peaceful revolution similar to the one that occured after the berlin wall fell -- if Bush really cared about freedom on the march in nondemocracies he would have started with china, but Bush cares more for walmart’s political campaign contributions than about the freedom of the chinese people that make walmart goods

maybe this is one of those things that we should set up a phone date to talk about?


MBA student at Tuck (Dartmouth):

anytime. i'd love to share and hear more thoughts about all of it.


Sunday, November 27, 2005

Contemplative days ...

My lack of internet access during these past few days away from home only partly explains the lack of new posted material. This time of year was once very happy, recharging, and inspirational. Happenings in my personal life have magnified the sense of sobriety one feels when confronted with struggle. I am not Sisyphus. The burden of repositioning stone is not mine alone -- and it remains unclear whether or not this obligation (perceived to be unescapable) is truly a sentence or self-selected. Nevertheless, the headlines are there: Food pantries are suffering as a result of a tapped-out populous. It is unclear whether attention spans or pocketbooks are the first casualties of excessive calls for charity. It is not possible to pass judgement either way. Tsunamis, eathquakes, hurricanes, mudslides, compound the sense of urgency already called forth by the everyday presence of desparation. I live in Los Angeles, California, a city where you are much more likely to cross paths with homeless persons than famous ones. Hollywood mansions and trendy young stars continue to embody L.A.'s public face; beachside, blonde-haired, light-eyed, fitness models seem to make invisible the millions comprising the "black" and "brown" and "yellow" and "red" majority that lives further inland. I read a book once by a woman named Poppendick about the world of emergency food collection and delivery. It was painful. The bulk of work done takes place in cities where supermarkets are numerous and well-stocked. There is but one question, excluding children who are very young, and nonambulatory persons, why are the hungry not able to enter and pick out what they want to eat? The complex answer is further complicated by an unsettling realization: It is easy to motivate schoolchildren to collect cans of food and non-perishable boxed items; simple to motivate adults to donate a few dollars and/or hours of time to local kitchens, pantries, and missions. But it is almost unimaginably hard to encapsulate and solve the series of root causes that led us to require varying infrastructures for emergency food collection and distribution. I mentioned in my first post that this blog was an invitation. This continues to be true. I sit here trying to figure out how to work with people I have not yet worked with (or have been unable to successfully work with in the past). Not long ago I sat listening to a man who had lost all those he loved in Sudan. Both genocide and the act of speaking-out against it brought this loss. I do not pretend to have all the answers. My only contention is that we can do better. I know that at several points between that first Thanksgiving near Plymouth and President Lincoln's revisiting of that seemingly mythical event, several speakers asked of Americans and Europeans what this Sudanese man asked of me: "Will you please remember that I spoke to you -- I realize most cannot truly grasp what happened (many will only find Darfur on a map if ever they find it at all) and I do not wish for you to ever know empathy from first hand experience -- but, despite all the things that should keep you from understanding (different language, culture, home, and way of life) will you please remember I spoke to you because I believed in the power of your not forgetting; in the action inspired by memory?"

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Corn tortillas and peanut butter -

I began today by thinking about the following quotes:

"A nation which has forgotten the quality of courage which in the past has been brought to public life is not as likely to insist upon or regard that quality in its chosen leaders today - and in fact we have forgotten."

"For time and the world do not stand still. Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future."

They led me to an essay that I wrote in the Fall of 2004.

One full of the kinds of thoughts in my head each Thanksgiving:

"On corn tortillas and peanut butter ...

I have nothing exceptionally clever or memorable to say about this world, the people in it, or the meaning of life. Nothing impacting to contribute to engineering, fine-art, timeless-writing, architecture, medicine, religion, economics, or any of the social sciences, humanities, or laboratory sciences. Please don’t ask me anything related to the definition of love or the practice of loving. As has been said by countless communicators on numerous occasions, 'if I knew anything about love, I’d be out there making it instead of sitting here talkin’ about it with you... no offense.' But although I have remarkably little to offer in return, I am in fact so bold as to request something from you: Please do me the enormous favor of trying corn tortillas with peanut butter. Do so with the understanding that I make no promises that to do so is earth shattering; no guarantees that the experience is existence-altering in and of itself. Do so because you’re willing to risk that the combination of corn tortillas and peanut butter might just produce a damn fine food: a culinary competitor to the crème-de-la crème of upper-crust cuisine.

Heat the tortillas up directly on the short, flickering flame produced by a gas-range adjusted to low-medium heat, or the early-sunset orange produced by an electric stovetop on a similar setting. First warm one side until the edges slightly burn. Then heat the other side until the center of the tortillas rises up like yeasted dough left in a warm, tranquil kitchen corner. Remove the tortilla from the stove and use a wide, flat knife to spread peanut butter on the fresh-from-the-flame side that would serve to do nothing but scald your fingers if you were to handle it. So of course, you see the wisdom of this approach… it quickly and easily heats the peanut butter, and efficiently and effectively prevents you from getting burned. (For the record: Chunky peanut butter works and tastes much better than the smooth variety. And when I say spread I mean glob on and smear around the way that whipped cream cheese is scooped and slapped on a freshly toasted poppy-seed at a place where they boil the bagels before they bake them).

This is the only thing that makes sense to me. A food created by a disenfranchised black man in search of the American dream—a dream pursued because it was promised to all persons, even those f*@ked-over by the fraction of 3/5—meets the result of corn kernels once ground into dough using spit, lye and stone. George Washington Carver’s tastiest and most well-known peanut-derived invention, filling flat, round edible suns created by Natives who saw their libraries burned by the same people who offered them Christian salvation; indigenous people whose languages, lifestyles, and lands died by the dozens, so that the New World could seem empty. Because only an empty world could be filled by brown, black, red, yellow, and white bums as well as multiracial, multicolored beggars clamoring to clean-up after, bathe, behold-to, coddle, carry, raise, toady, marabou, sycophant and serve the luxurious less-than-1%. That special socioeconomic class that merits all they have because of their diligence, genius, imagination, and outlook; that speaks of freedom, opportunity, and progress for all those the Lord loves—you know, the obedient, the devout, the trusting, and the self-reliant: those that ask not for a hand up or out… those that buckle-down, nose-to-the-grindstone, and find a way to help themselves.

Corn tortillas and peanut butter are as revolutionary and subversive as love and hope. Yet unlike the most common reserves and fountains of these: family, friendship, Faith, visual art, the captured word, the warmth and comfort of a nearby companion, and the tone and sensation of music, corn tortillas and peanut butter fill the bellies of all those who are alive, nourish the developing bellies of those yet to be born, and at least one case—that being mine—will fill the belly of a man willing to meet his demise with nothing more to show for his life than this tribute to corn tortillas and peanut butter, attached to a note of thanks to the African-Americans and Mesoamericans who made it possible for the starving disempowered to be the fed empowered. Bob Marley sang, 'Them belly full but we hungry.' Here’s the key to make it no longer true. To survive, democracy needs corn tortillas and peanut butter, and all else that holds the voices of the historically marginalized, maligned and forgotten. To flourish, democracy needs ballots cast by voters no longer satiated with procedure and malnourished by a lack of substance."

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

"No government or social system is so evil that its people must be considered as lacking in virtue."

John F. Kennedy died on this day in 1963. Had he lived to see this Thanksgiving, he would speak to us with the wisdom of 88 years of age. The following speech was delivered five months before his murder, before attaining five full decades of wisdom:

"I have, therefore, chosen this time and place to discuss a topic on which ignorance too often abounds and the truth too rarely perceived -- and that is the most important topic on earth: peace.

What kind of peace do I mean and what kind of a peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war, not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace -- the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living -- and the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and build a better life for their children -- not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women -- not merely peace in our time but peace in all time.

I speak of peace because of the new face of war. Total war makes no sense in an age where great powers can maintain large and relatively invulnerable nuclear forces and refuse to surrender without resort to those forces. It makes no sense in an age where a single nuclear weapon contains almost ten times the explosive force delivered by all the Allied air forces in the second world war. It makes no sense in an age when the deadly poisons produced by a nuclear exchange would be carried by wind and water and soil and seed to the far corners of the globe and to generations yet unborn.

Today the expenditure of billions of dollars every year on weapons acquired for the purpose of making sure we never need them is essential to the keeping of peace. But surely the acquisition of such idle stockpiles -- which can only destroy and never create -- is not the only, much less the most efficient, means of assuring peace.

I speak of peace, therefore, as the necessary rational end of rational men. I realize the pursuit of peace is not as dramatic as the pursuit of war -- and frequently the words of the pursuers fall on deaf ears. But we have no more urgent task.

Some say that it is useless to speak of peace or world law or world disarmament -- and that it will be useless until the leaders of the Soviet Union adopt a more enlightened attitude. I hope they do. I believe we can help them do it.

But I also believe that we must re-examine our own attitudes -- as individuals and as a nation -- for our attitude is as essential as theirs. And every graduate of this school, every thoughtful citizen who despairs of war and wishes to bring peace, should begin by looking inward -- by examining his own attitude towards the possibilities of peace, towards the Soviet Union, towards the course of the cold war and towards freedom and peace here at home.

First: Examine our attitude towards peace itself. Too many of us think it is impossible. Too many think it is unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable -- that mankind is doomed -- that we are gripped by forces we cannot control.

We need not accept that view. Our problems are man-made. Therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man's reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable -- and we believe they can do it again.

I am not referring to the absolute, infinite concepts of universal peace and goodwill of which some fantasies and fanatics dream. I do not deny the value of hopes and dreams but we merely invite discouragement and incredulity by making that our only and immediate goal.

Let us focus instead on a more practical, more attainable peace -- based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions -- on a series of concrete actions and effective agreement which are in the interests of all concerned.

There is no single, simple key to this peace -- no grand or magic formula to be adopted by one or two powers. Genuine peace must be the product of many nations, the sum of many acts. It must be dynamic, not static, changing to meet the challenge of each new generation. For peace is a process -- a way of solving problems.

With such a peace, there will still be quarrels and conflicting interests, as there are within families and nations. World peace, like community peace, does not require that each man love his neighbor -- it requires only that they live together with mutual tolerance, submitting their disputes to a just and peaceful settlement. And history teaches us that enmities between nations, as between individuals, do not last forever. However fixed our likes and dislikes may seem, the tide of time and events will often bring surprising changes in the relations between nations and neighbors.

So let us persevere. Peace need not be impracticable -- and war need not be inevitable. By defining our goal more clearly -- by making it seem more manageable and less remote -- we can help all people to see it, to draw hope from it and to move irresistibly towards it.

And second: Let us re-examine our attitude towards the Soviet Union. It is discouraging to think that their leaders may actually believe what their propagandists write.

It is discouraging to read a recent authoritative Soviet text on military strategy and find, on page after page, wholly baseless and incredible claims -- such as the allegation that "American imperialist circles are preparing to unleash different types of war... that there is a very real threat of a preventative war being unleashed by American imperialists against the Soviet Union... (and that) the political aims," and I quote, "of the American imperialists are to enslave economically and politically the European and other capitalist countries... (and) achieve world domination... by means of aggressive war."

Truly, as it was written long ago: "The wicked flee when no man pursueth." Yet it is sad to read these Soviet statements -- to realize the extent of the gulf between us. But it is also a warning -- a warning to the American people not to fall into the same trap as the Soviets, not to see only a distorted and desperate view of the other side, not to see conflict as inevitable, accommodation as impossible and communication as nothing more than an exchange of threats.

No government or social system is so evil that its people must be considered as lacking in virtue. As Americans, we find Communism profoundly repugnant as a negation of personal freedom and dignity. But we can still hail the Russian people for their many achievements -- in science and space, in economic and industrial growth, in culture, in acts of courage.

Among the many traits the peoples of our two countries have in common, none is stronger than our mutual abhorrence of war. Almost unique among the major world powers, we have never been at war with each other. And no nation in the history of battle ever suffered more than the Soviet Union in the second world war. At least 20 million lost their lives. Countless millions of homes and families were burned or sacked. A third of the nation's territory, including two-thirds of its industrial base, was turned into a wasteland -- a loss equivalent to the destruction of this country east of Chicago.

Today, should total war ever break out again -- no matter how -- our two countries will be the primary targets. It is an ironic but accurate fact that the two strongest powers are the two in the most danger of devastation. All we have built, all we have worked for, would be destroyed in the first 24 hours. And even in the cold war -- which brings burdens and dangers to so many countries, including this nation's closest allies -- our two countries bear the heaviest burdens. For we are both devoting massive sums of money to weapons that could better be devoted to combat ignorance, poverty, and disease.

We are both caught up in a vicious and dangerous cycle with suspicion on one side breeding suspicion on the other, and new weapons begetting counter-weapons.

In short, both the United States and its allies, and the Soviet Union and its allies, have a mutually deep interest in a just and genuine peace and in halting the arms race. Agreements to this end are in the interests of the Soviet Union as well as ours -- and even the most hostile nations can be relied upon to accept and keep those treaty obligations and only those treaty obligations which are in their own interest.

So let us not be blind to our differences, but let us also direct attention to our common interests and the means by which those differences can be resolved. And if we cannot end now our differences, at least we can help make the world safe for diversity. For, in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's futures. And we are all mortal.

Third: Let us re-examine our attitude towards the cold war, remembering that we are not engaged in a debate, seeking to pile up debating points.

We are not here distributing blame or pointing the finger of judgment. We must deal with the world as it is, and not as it might have been had the history of the last eighteen years been different.

We must therefore persevere in the search for peace in the hope that constructive changes within the Communist bloc might bring within reach solutions which now seem beyond us. We must conduct our affairs in such a way that it becomes in the Communists' interest to agree on a genuine peace. And above all, while defending our own vital interests, nuclear powers must avert those confrontations which bring an adversary to a choice of either a humiliating retreat or a nuclear war. To adopt that kind of course in the nuclear age would be evidence only of the bankruptcy of our policy -- or of a collective death-wish for the world.

To secure these ends, America's weapons are non-provocative, carefully controlled, designed to deter and capable of selective use. Our military forces are committed to peace and disciplined in self-restraint. Our diplomats are instructed to avoid unnecessary irritants and purely rhetorical hostility.

For we can seek a relaxation of tensions without relaxing our guard. And for our part, we do not need to use threats to prove we are resolute. We do not need to jam foreign broadcasts out of fear our faith will be eroded. We are unwilling to impose our system on any unwilling people -- but we are willing and able to engage in peaceful competition with any people on earth.

Meanwhile, we seek to strengthen the United Nations, to help solve its financial problems, to make it a more effective instrument for peace, to develop it into a genuine world security system -- a system capable of resolving disputes on the basis of law, of insuring the security of the large and the small, and of creating conditions under which arms can finally be abolished.

At the same time we seek to keep peace inside the non-Communist world, where many nations, all of them our friends, are divided over issues which weaken Western unity, which invite Communist intervention or which threaten to erupt into war.

Our efforts in West New Guinea, in the Congo, in the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent have been persistent and patient despite criticism from both sides. We have also tried to set an example for others -- by seeking to adjust small but significant differences with our own closest neighbors in Mexico and Canada.

Speaking of other nations, I wish to make one point clear: We are bound to many nations by alliances. These alliances exist because our concern and theirs substantially overlap. Our commitment to defend Western Europe and West Berlin, for example, stands undiminished because of the identity of our vital interests. The United States will make no deal with the Soviet Union at the expense of other nations and other peoples, not merely because they are our partners, but also because their interests and ours converge.

Our interests converge, however, not only in defending the frontiers of freedom, but in pursuing the paths of peace.

It is our hope -- and the purpose of allied policies -- to convince the Soviet Union that she, too, should let each nation choose its own future, so long as that choice does not interfere with the choices of others. The Communist drive to impose their political and economic system on others is the primary cause of world tension today. For there can be no doubt that, if all nations could refrain from interfering in the self-determination of others, the peace would be much more assured.

This will require a new effort to achieve world law -- a new context for world discussions. It will require increased understanding between the Soviets and ourselves. And increased understanding will require increased contact and communication.

One step in this direction is the proposed arrangement for a direct line between Moscow and Washington, to avoid on each side the dangerous delays, misunderstanding, and misreadings of the other's actions which might occur at a time of crisis.

We have also been talking in Geneva about our first-step measures of arms control, designed to limit the intensity of the arms race and reduce the risk of accidental war.

Our primary long-range interest in Geneva, however, is general and complete disarmament -- designed to take place by stages, permitting parallel political developments to build the new institutions of peace which would take the place of arms. The pursuit of disarmament has been an effort of this Government since the 1920's. It has been urgently sought by the past three Administrations. And however dim the prospects are today, we intend to continue this effort -- to continue it in order that all countries, including our own, can better grasp what the problems and the possibilities of disarmament are.

The only major area of these negotiations where the end is in sight -- yet where a fresh start is badly needed -- is in a treaty to outlaw nuclear tests. The conclusion of such a treaty -- so near and yet so far -- would check the spiraling arms race in one of its most dangerous areas. It would place the nuclear powers in a position to deal more effectively with one of the greatest hazards which man faces in 1963 -- the further spread of nuclear arms. It would increase our security -- it would decrease the prospects of war.

Surely this goal is sufficiently important to require our steady pursuit, yielding neither to the temptation to give up the whole effort nor the temptation to give up our insistence on vital and responsible safeguards.

I am taking this opportunity, therefore, to announce two important decisions in this regard:

First: Chairman Khrushchev, Prime Minister Macmillan and I have agreed that high-level discussions will shortly begin in Moscow looking towards early agreement on a comprehensive test ban treaty. Our hopes must be tempered with the caution of history -- but with our hopes go the hopes of all mankind.

Second: To make clear our good faith and solemn convictions on this matter, I now declare that the United States does not propose to conduct nuclear tests in the atmosphere so long as other states do not do so. We will not be the first to resume. Such a declaration is no substitute for a formal binding treaty -- but I hope it will help us achieve one. Nor would such a treaty be a substitute for disarmament -- but I hope it will help us achieve it.

Finally, my fellow Americans, let us examine our attitude towards peace and freedom here at home. The quality and spirit of our own society must justify and support our efforts abroad. We must show in the dedication of our own lives -- as many of you who are graduating today will have an opportunity to do, by serving without pay in the Peace Corps abroad or in the proposed National Service Corps here at home.

But wherever we are, we must all, in our daily lives live up to the age-old faith that peace and freedom walk together. In too many of our cities today, the peace is not secure because freedom is incomplete.

It is the responsibility of the executive branch at all levels of government -- local, state, and national -- to provide and protect that freedom for all of our citizens by all means within our authority. It is the responsibility of the legislative branch at all levels, whenever the authority is not now adequate, to make it adequate. And it is the responsibility of all citizens in all sections of this country to respect the rights of others and respect the laws of the land.

All this is not unrelated to world peace. "When a man's ways please the Lord," the scriptures tell us, "he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him." And is not peace, in the last analysis basically a matter of human rights -- the right to live out our lives without fear of devastation -- the right to breathe air as nature provided it -- the right of future generations to a healthy existence?

While we proceed to safeguard our national interests let us also safeguard human interests. And the elimination of war and arms is clearly in the interest of both.

No treaty, however much it may be to the advantage of all, however tightly it may be worded, can provide absolute security against the risks of deception and evasion. But it can -- if it is sufficiently effective in its enforcement and it is sufficiently in the interests of its signers -- offer far more security and far fewer risks than an unabated, uncontrolled, unpredictable arms race.

The United States, as the world knows, will never start a war. We do not want a war. We do not now expect a war. This generation of Americans has already had enough -- more than enough -- of war and hate and oppression. We shall be prepared if others wish it. We shall be alert to try to stop it. But we shall also do our part to build a world of peace where the weak are safe and the strong are just.

We are not helpless before that task or hopeless of its success. Confident and unafraid, we must labor on -- not towards a strategy of annihilation but towards a strategy of peace. Thank you."

Monday, November 21, 2005

Monday before Thanksgiving -

This is not a lower back tatoo, a tribal arm band, a belly ring, a pair of pink ugz boots, (sans/avec laces) or a "metro" make-over for broadcast. This is an invitation. If you have access to this page, (the ability to read a blog) then you also have sufficient opportunity to contemplate our place in history. My maternal grandmother fought Fascism. My paternal grandfather left the ranch for the city and traveled throughout the Americas with those performing a form of music created to unify hemispheres. Much has been said about what my parents and others who came of age between 1950 and 1970 fought against/for and created. There are a seemingly endleess array of challenges across each of the populated continents, and even an impressive list of environmental/ecological obstacles confronting Antarctica. But I refuse to be overwhelmed. We can and must accomplish something truly epic. I want to move from hopes and dreams to championing and flag-bearing. Will you join me? Rosa Park's recent passing is a powerful reminder of another generation's place in history ... What do you suppose will be ours?