WHAT CAN WE DO? | LET’S DO SOMETHING! | How can we Organize the Human Community?

Democracy is Dying and it's Startling, Few Worried, Paul Mason

Democracy is Dying and it’s Startling How Few are Worried Paul Mason

I have been in France just under a month. I found out not even two hours ago through a conversation on skype with my sister who lives in England and France, that during the time we were back in the United States of Apathy, that ICE (i hadn’t know what this was, i thought ICE was simply In Case of Emergency) However I learned from my sister today about the other version. (ICE) Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

I hadn’t known what ICE meant, I had to google it. http://www.newsweek.com/immigration-immigration-and-customs-enforcement-ice-donald-trump-628896

ICE had come into the town of Lebanon, PA into a catholic church on a Sunday, and rounded up dozens of people, probably mostly men, of darker skin, and packed them into a van to take to another town to sit in jail, awaiting trial, perhaps a 1 or 2 year wait.

Newsweek, ICE raid, Risk, Deportation

Newsweek ICE raid Who Is At Risk Deportation.

While visiting the USA just a month ago, my sister befriended a guy from El Salvador who stayed in the motel room next to her. He’s been in the USA for 25 years, has a green card and has several kids and a wife in Virginia. Presently he’s been in central Pennsylvania working in construction to support his family. He was one of the people rounded up and loaded into this van. My sister attempted to stay with him, holding his hand, went into the van, and the police officer warned her with a tone of reproach that she better get the hell out of there if she knows what’s good for her.

The El Salvadoran gave my sister his phone and the number of his wife to call in VA. My sister said that his wife was screaming when she heard the news. Her life support money-earner for herself and her kids, disposed of.

War Zone Desperate and Dead Mondediplio

War Zone Desperate and Dead Mondediplio

I knew nothing of this. I was just reading headlines last night about 500 people in Turkey under questioning or worse, for attempting to overthrow a dictator. I know nothing of this Turkey official and hadn’t read the story yet.

500 in court, Turkey Coup Attempt 2016, CNN

Nearly 500 in court Turkey Coup Attempt 2016 CNN

Yet I thought to myself, can not the world step in and change this situation? That was before I knew what was happening in the neighboring town while I was sleeping on a Sunday morning. WTF.

 

 

What can we do? Sit back, crack open a beer and hang out with friends, watch a TV show, get ready to arrange the schedule of picking up the kids from their practice…..when before our eyes a military dictatorship fascist embarrassment of a President is enforcing this sweep of people across the country who have been living and working here, taking jobs that Americans haven’t wanted, and who were brought here to do the dirty jobs that help our system to run efficiently, are suddenly afraid to leave their homes to go to the grocery store?

Stop Swooning over Justin Trudeau, Climate Disaster, Bill McKibben

Stop Swooning over Justin Trudeau Climate Disaster Bill McKibben

McKibben writes for the Guardian, “Yes, 173bn barrels is indeed the estimate for recoverable oil in the tar sands. So let’s do some math. If Canada digs up that oil and sells it to people to burn, it will produce, according to the math whizzes at Oil Change International, 30% of the carbon necessary to take us past the 1.5C target that Canada helped set in Paris.

That is to say, Canada, which represents one half of 1% of the planet’s population, is claiming the right to sell the oil that will use up a third of the earth’s remaining carbon budget. Trump is a creep and a danger and unpleasant to look at, but at least he’s not a stunning hypocrite.”

Out of Wreckage, A New Politics, Age of Crisis, George Monbiot

Out of the Wreckage A New Politics for an Age of Crisis George Monbiot

Monbiot writes, “A toxic ideology rules the world – of extreme competition and individualism. It misrepresents human nature, destroying hope and common purpose. Only a positive vision can replace it, a new story that re-engages people in politics and lights a path to a better world.”

What are we going to do?

Immigrants from Syria and other parts of the world, war/climate immigrants are escaping deplorable situations to come to the West, which has been living amply, to be treated with hostility and turned away with barbwire. Black market money to stuff people on rickety over-loaded boats, taking peoples’ life savings, to flee situations, only to find that the rest of the world is not helping to organize their safe transport.

This is very, very wrong. We can use the money from the enormous profits from banks, international corporations who make millions and billions in profit, to set up communities, and renewable energy enterprises to re-esatablish safe havens.

This is not right. We can’t read news and do nothing like it isn’t our problem. In some countries people are having 12 to 16 babies. A large part of the problem of GLOBAL WARMING/CLIMATE CHANGE IS due to over-population. We are sucking up the soil, destroying habitats of other animals who have a right to life.

Humans need to be accountable.

We need to be accountable for what is happening ALL OVER THE WORLD.

We Are Humanity Film, Jarawa documentary

We Are Humanity Film Jarawa documentary

We need to intercept. I’m sorry, but we need to educate and infiltrate, not remain passive, saying it’s not my problem. Not my problem if some people are cruel to other humans or animals or their actions are knowingly or unknowingly destroying the habitat and polluting some creatures’ environment.

I don’t think any living being can just sit back and let all this happen without having a conscience and wanting to help.

I don’t know where to begin, except for expressing this. I think the world needs leaders who will actually step in and shut Trump and other dictators down. People can divest – take their money out of banks and institutions that support dirty energy and dirty politics. There are numerous ways that people working together could SHUT DOWN OPERATIONS AS THEY ARE through organized actions like; those working in public transportation or truck drivers to not work for a day, or three…We can all work together, educate one another, demand new structures and create them together, IMMEDIATELY.

There are plenty of people with the wisdom and insights and contacts to know how to lead and guide a worldwide REVOLUTION. Not a violent one, a movement with people stepping out of their routines and giving a little time and effort and action to make their voice heard. We can’t let more dictators destroy peoples lives. We can’t let peoples religious beliefs just allow people to pop out 13 babies and pretend that it’s okay. We live in one world, one with limited resources. I refuse to just take on business as usual, and pretend that it’s okay for Mr. Orangehead Chump to push his grey suits around and whimsical notions of what he thinks needs to happen. It’s time for the fucking world intelligence, artists, teachers, scientists and leaders to step in. I still have to read about what’s happening in Turkey, or Venezuela, because I can’t keep up with all of it, but it just IS NOT OKAY ANYMORE, to think that “It’s not here next to me in my community, so it’s not my problem.” IT IS ALL OF OUR PROBLEM. WE NEED LEADERS WHO CAN STEP IN AND INTERCEPT, AGENCIES TO EDUCATE, GUIDE.

I thank all of the environmental, social, ecological groups who serve as watch dogs and educate the rest of us, but somehow, i think something much more brilliant has to take place to begin lighting up the whole world to working together. If we are the people – in a Democracy – choosing our leaders, then we should have the military industrial complex working with us, not in militarized suits, against us.

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Carol Keiter the blogger on return hitch from Taos to Santa Fe, New Mexico

Carol Keiter the blogger on return hitch from Taos to Santa Fe, New Mexico

carol keiter blogger card

carol keiter blogger card

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Relocate rather than Vacate | Trump is the Mere Nefarious figurehead of a Vile Oil Oligarchic System

Pardon the haste and perhaps haphazardness with which I’m posting this blog. I still have packing to do. I am flying tomorrow, Sunday the 9th of July from nYc to Paris. My intention is not to vacate, but to relocate. Not to vacation in Paris, but to plant myself in an inexpensive post in Europe, in order to write articles about a number of different topics that will take me to different countries. I also wish to debut performing my music live as i continue to produce more. I have been considering ways for the past two years to plant myself back in Europe. Yes, It takes mega fossil fuels to get myself there, but I literally bicycled hundreds of miles throughout this past winter to transport myself to dozens of schools throughout the Santa Fe, New Mexico county school district, to teach students K through 12th grade in all different subjects. I was one of the only people bicycling. I saw a couple schools where several teachers bicycled. These were an exception.

I just watched a video of Indigenous people from the Pacific Islands visiting Indigenous people in Canada, to see for themselves the destruction of their territory and to express solidarity. I was in tears. I am sharing this here, because the words of one of the elderly native women in her prayers, echoes what I’ve heard from different people in different places; The change that needs to happen, is not on an intellectual level, but from the perspective of heart, feeling, values. Incentive to make changes will happen when people really care about, feel harmony with and identity with all of life, all entities that sustain life, as one incredible intelligent interconnected system that reveals and produces life

Impact of Tar Sands is felt worldwide, 350.org

Impact of Tar Sands is felt worldwide presented by 350.org

I am in tears as I watch this. I had gone to the COP21 in Paris. My real learning experience was through engaging during the two week duration of the climate talks with the http://www.placetob.org. I met people who came from the other side of the world to talk about how their communities have already been affected for the last decade by GLOBAL WARMING (the politically incorrect term which puts in your face the face the fact that the CLIMATE IS CHANGING DUE TO HUMAN ACTION AND INACTION)

This woman elder conducting a prayer said. “The indigenous people have a sacred connection to the water and land. They understand that when you take from the land, you must return.

We all have to feel this way in our hearts, to love our water and land and air, and all of the creatures who are part of this earth.

We can’t just sit idle any more and let the billionaires do what they want.

We need to fight for clean air and water and land.

I’m going to warrior up, to do anything i can to protect this water and land.

Kinder Morgen (Kinder Morgan according to wiki is the largest energy infrastructure company in North America), are killing the fish, killing the deer, killing the bear.

If Trudeau (and Trump) won’t take action, people will.”

So, my point, Trump is an easy target to feel disgust and revulsion by his desire to strip away healthcare, rights, protections for national parks….but he is merely a puppet, a figurehead, behind a system that has been bulldozing the environment and peoples’ rights and profiting through racism and targeting blacks, for the last 20 years.

My idea, after having spent last winter completely immersed in work that took all of my time, but through which I learned very much and thoroughly enjoyed in particular teaching skiing on the weekends and several long holidays, because I love physical activity, love the alpine environment, love to ski and love to communicate and teach people who really want to learn.

It was because of a memorial ceremony held for my mother this last Saturday which brought a bunch of extended family together to celebrate her life, that bounced me back to the East coast from Taos, New Mexico, where I was residing the last two months. Because my job seasons’ both ended in Santa Fe, I moved to Taos at the suggestion of a friend, where I lived in a yurt, off the grid, no plumbing or electricity, and then was given the opportunity to use a room in my friend’s home to use for electricity and internet “IF and only if, I used this space to complete my book”. I diligently did this, dove into it, which not only has brought this project to near completion, and fueled my desire and conviction to dive into other writing projects. I’ve been blogging for years, making no income. Now, I will dive into writing articles (have already several lined up), and will through the stages of learning and making mistakes, begin operating in the world of journalism.

India planted 66 Million trees in 12 hours

India planted 66 Million trees in 12 hours

ANYTHING can be accomplished, when power hungry control & greed don’t get in the way of people working together.

To me, nothing is more important than impressing upon people hope about the future, ways that we can joyfully participate in making our earth a more nourishing place and to spread a sentiment of love and caring for all of the inhabitants of the earth, and the soil, the water and air as living beings, that are an inextricable part of all of us.

We have so much more life to live, experiences to feel and share, if we stretch and extend ourselves to sense deeply how fantastic our world is, and how to really value the most minute experience of “I and thou”. I’m talking, your perception, and a rain drop in a puddle that sends out waves. I’m saying, your perception, of wind moving through trees. I’m saying, your perception, of your breath and how incredibly intelligent and splendid your body is.

Get back into your body. Get back into letting thoughts go and actually listening and tuning into a creature that can fit on your hand. Get back into walking, bicycling and moving your body, and feeling how wonderful it is to be in good shape and connected. Get back into extending a smile to a stranger, and feeling how this ripples. Our earth is magical. The creatures with whom we coexist are splendid. I am sorry to say, that it is not the people, but leaders, particularly in the “United States of Anxiety” who wish to keep things the way they are, who wish to bend over to money. Sadly, even Justin Trudeau of Canada is demonstrating this. The reason I wished to write this in the first place was because of something I relayed to my friend with whom I’ve been staying for the last week out of her graciousness. I was saying that it is easy to be disgusted, embarrassed and absolutely revolted by the personality of our President Trump, because of his mannerisms, statements, actions the greed, narcissism…Yet I learned 3 months ago when I was hitchhiking back from skiing a day in Taos to Santa Fe, from the driver. I had turned down the 1st 3 rides. This man was articulate, well educated and kind. He said he was a climatologist who worked for 10 years for the State of California. To my astonishment, he mentioned that in the early 90’s, like 1991, he was told/dissuaded/warned by the State (the alleged progressive state of California) NOT to use the word ‘climate change’ and probably at that time ‘global warming’ was the term, in ANY of his reports. When in fact, his research pointed directly to climate change as a result of actions of the petroleum industries. So, my point, Trump is an easy target to feel disgust and revulsion by his desire to strip away healthcare, rights, protections for national parks….but he is merely a puppet, a figurehead, behind a system that has been bulldozing the environment and peoples’ rights and profiting through racism and targeting blacks, for the last 20 years. And now the people need to stand up and face the reality, and organize behind those groups who can facilitate change.

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Carol Keiter aka nomadbeatz welcomes donations for her writing, photography, illustrations, eBook & music composition

 Carol Keiter's contact card feat pic hummingbird feeding in Santa Fe, NM

Carol Keiter’s contact card feat pic hummingbird feeding in Santa Fe, NM


Climate Change | Disruption the film | People’s Climate March nYc September 21st 2014

Climate Change is real.

Greenpeace

Together We Can Do So Much

Coming up on the 21st of September on the autumnal equinox, is the Climate March in New York City organized by a number of global environmental organizations; 350.org, Avaaz, GoFossilFree.org, MoveOn.org, Greenpeace.org

Peoples_Climate_March September 21st in nYc

Peoples_Climate_March September 21st in nYc

The U.S. government (NASA) National Aeronautics and Space Administration describe in detail on their website the indicators of climate change.

Climate Change Disruption

Climate Change Disruption
the film

Climate. Change. Disruption” is a film by Kelly Nyks and Jared P. Scott. They ask you to be a part of the largest climate march in history.

Our actions matter!

And here’s a pic of Carol Keiter, the blogger, beneath one of the creatures featured by the photographer Joel Sartore, who is capturing photos of all the species, in his series, the photo ark.

Joel Sartore, animal catalogue

Picture of primate, compliments of Joel Sartore’s photo catalogue of species and me, Carol Keiter the blogger

Worth Taking Your Time to Breath In All of This Message | Mother Earth

Earth Upworthy, Home

Our Earth, Our Home

I happened to look at this eloquent short video by Bitthu Sahgal brought to us through Upworthy. It brought tears to my eyes. Densely populated with images and edited so articulately that the message is profound. It is a testimony to our home, the earth, which humans share with all of its creatures. Our earth, our mother, is hurting, from what we humans have been doing. Human beings have the unique capacity to grasp this information, understand its implications and do something about it, before it is too late.

Upworthy Video If you Live on Earth

If You Live On Earth, You Must Watch This

Earth_home_upworthy

Earth_home_wetlands_upworthy

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor” – Desmond Tutu.

In other words, one who witnesses something that is wrong and does nothing, is an accomplice.

I want

Human Want and Greed

sliced up earth looks like circuit board

Slicing up the natural world until it looks like a circuit board

Habitat_loss_Upworthy

We Share Our Planet, Kumi Naidoo GreenPeace

We Share Our Planet, Help Us Remind Those Who Forget

Issac Cordal Politicians Discussing Global Warmingl

Politicians Discussing Global Warming

This sculpture by Issac Cordal in Berlin is called “Politicians discussing global warming.”

Below are several links to blogs I’ve written previously, regarding recognizing how precious our earth is, having compassion for the creatures that share this earth and leaning in to taking responsibility towards doing what we can to change our habits. We need to bring her back into balance, and make this our top priority.

https://carolkeiter.wordpress.com/2013/11/22/the-truth-earthlings-love-letter-to-the-earth-thich-nhat-hanh-kumi-naidoo-greenpeace-saving-the-earth-from-ourselves-only-after-cree-indians/

Banksy street art Global Warming

Global Warming

http://digesthis.wordpress.com/2012/11/21/dothemath-350-org-bill-mckibben-global-climate-crisis-washington-d-c/

WHAT WE CAN DO

Carbon_Capture

Carbon Capture How It Happens

Read about and watch these videos to familiarize yourself with the impact of your actions & educate yourself about how your own personal actions can positively affect change!: The Story of Stuff: The Impact of Overconsumption on the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health-And How We Can Make It Better

The Story_Of_Stuff _ Annie Leonard

The Story Of Stuff Project Annie Leonard

People's Climate March September 21st NYC

People’s Climate March September 21st NYC

Water Dragon

Water Dragon

If you wish to donate to my cause of sharing information, please do so. If you are aware of any groups or individuals who may wish to listen to my intentions and help me to reach them, please help to guide me and put me together with those who may wish to financially help me reach these goals. My intentions are to continue to write, photograph, illustrate, compose music and basically communicate in order to educate the public about social injustice, raising peoples’ awareness about what they can do to have a lighter environmental footprint, advocating for animals through writing and producing music that gives a voice to creatures whose time is limited due to habitat loss and poaching as well as completing the writing of my interactive eBook which is geared as a multi-lingual educational tool involving a great deal of scientific discovery, for which I will compose music for a soundtrack. It all takes time, and it’s worth it. I’ll be happy to join a group full-time who are involved in projects of this sort as well.

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My first intention was to blog this announcement: I must shift from merely writing blogs to gaining income through submitting articles to publications, and subsequently linking these to my blogs. It will be a much more convoluted process; taking the time and effort to research first what publications may want to print the information I write, and then after sending the query, waiting to hear from them. I have little choice, since I have no income whatsoever.

An article I will write promptly, is a social anthropological one. It came from a conversation that I had last evening, in which i was bringing up parallel points that are all cases involving increased community, at the cost of less freedom. The examples tied together are through people I have known who have delivered their first-hand observations of communities in which they lived. Hopefully, you will get to read this if one of the publications or internet magazine sites that I send the query to opt to print it.

Above the blogger below, is one among many of Joel Sartore’s photographs documenting species.

Joel Sartore, animal catalogue

Picture of primate, compliments of Joel Sartore’s photo catalogue of species and me, Carol Keiter the blogger

http://digesthis.wordpress.com/2012/04/12/gross_domestic_problem_-why-measurement-of-wealth-depends-on-a-healthy-environment/

Two sides to the (TPP) Trans-Pacific Partnership | Diplomatic Outreach or Corporate Steal

On the 21st of January, in the Southwestern corner of Berlin, Germany, I attended a lecture at the American Academy, an organization created to augment cultural and intellectual relations between the United States and Germany.

The American Academy in Berlin, Germany

The American Academy in Berlin, Germany

It was founded in 1994 by the U.S. Diplomat and Ambassador to Germany at the time Richard C. Holbrook, to encourage a transatlantic dialogue between the U.S. and German corporate, political, academic and cultural communities. This particular talk featured the American diplomat Richard N. Haass, who is the current President of the Council on Foreign Relations for the United States. Haass was formerly Special Assistant to President George H.W. Bush (Sr.).

Haass spoke to a cozy room of diplomats, academics, journalists and students. His talk specifically aligned to foreign policy, outlining some of the points of his recently published book “Foreign Policy Begins at Home”. He stressed that the United States has had an over-reach abroad and under-performance at home. Perhaps suffering, In his opinion, from ‘intervention fatigue’.

Besides emphasizing the need to put diplomacy over military, he also stressed that our current biggest challenge is to come up with a political and intellectual consensus. He mentioned that quality of education is the most important investment. A proponent of ‘investment partnerships’, he prefaced his discussion of global trade agreements by saying that the United States has had a growth of isolationism. He talked of the need to develop partnerships, saying that Asia is the fastest growing region with which the U.S. should specifically concern themselves. With this in mind, he spoke favorably of the TPP as an obvious strategic tool, essential for strengthening ties. The (TPP) Trans-Pacific Partnership is an extension of the 2005 (TPSEP) Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement. As of August 2013, the countries included are: Australia, Brunei, Chile, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam – listed in alphabetical order, not by measure of the implicit hierarchical power structure.

Pacific Rim Countries

His words ‘made perfect sense’ in light of his persuasive argument. Following his talk, the Executive Director of the American Academy, Dr. Gary Smith closed with the profound words that “Ideas Matter” and “Ideas Migrate”. It was the following day that I noticed that quite a different perception of the TPP had migrated into my inbox. 350.org, an environmental action movement, was on ‘high alert’, corresponding with the onset of the 2014 World Economic Forum, fortressed within the mountains of Davos, Switzerland.

World Economic Forum 2014 Davos

World Economic Forum 2014 Davos

Mentioning that though they don’t typically speak out about political affairs, 350.org nevertheless could not disregard the need to send out their timely message ‘the TPP is shaping up to be the worst kind of corporate power grab’ imaginable, with grim repercussions for the earth’s environment. Wikileaks had just leaked documents confirming that the United States TPP negotiating team is walking away from supporting strong environmental safeguards; protections from land use, logging and climate pollution. According to 350.org – an environmental organization and international grassroots movement founded by Bill McKibben aimed to reduce the CO2 emissions to 350 ppm – “the TPP would empower corporations to directly sue governments over laws and policies that they claim would reduce their profits. Legislation designed to address climate change, curb fossil fuel expansion and reduce air pollution, could all be subject to attack as a result of the TPP, cloaked as a free-trade agreement. In response, 350.org assembled an online activist form enabling people to contact their representatives, encouraging them not to support this highly secretive and expansive free-trade agreement between the United States and eleven Pacific Rim countries.

Davos, Switzerland location of 2014 World Economic Forum

Davos, Switzerland location of 2014 World Economic Forum

The World Economic Forum taking place in the secluded mountains of Switzerland, even drew criticism from one of their speakers, referring to the forum’s inherent elitist exclusivity. Kavita Ramdas, stating the ‘Tiny Elite’ Shouldn’t Run an Inequality Discussion’. It was the butt of jokes, by Jon Stewart on Comedy Central’s “the Daily Show”; referring to ‘Mountain Few’ and the ‘Money Oscars’, since Davos is not only elusive (to get to physically) but also exclusive, fabulously expensive.

And an even more scathing and hard-hitting idea migrated into my inbox from the Tomdispatch blog. With respect to the corporate grab, read the Tomgram by Greg Grandin about the “Terror of our Age” and “The Two Faces of Empire”. This view pretty much 180 degrees, diametrically opposed from the U.S. diplomat’s words that first alerted my ears to the TPP.

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Carol Keiter the blogger

Carol Keiter the blogger

The Truth ‘Earthlings’ | Love Letter to the Earth by Thich Nhat Hanh | Kumi Naidoo Greenpeace – Saving the Earth from Ourselves | ‘Only After’ Cree Indians

street are by Banksy I Don't Believe in Global Warming

street art by Banksy
I Don’t Believe in Global Warming

My previous blog stated my angry sentiments regarding human greed and how it has affected our earth and all of its creatures. This blog introduces the paradigm shift in consciousness and understanding needed by all of us. Wayne Dyer mentions in his talk, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”. We need to change the way we see and interpret our relationship to the earth, the cosmos and to all humans and inhabitants of this earth.

In this blog, I’m bringing together three mediums that compliment the same subject, our relationship to the earth. A film, a book and an interview, each revealing that we are inextricably linked to not only all humans, but all other species and to the earth itself. Just as all of the cells in our bodies are working together to create the whole, the earth itself is also an organism. The parts can’t be separated from the whole, nor can the whole exist without the parts.

• “The Three Stages of Truth” is a short video excerpted from the earth-shattering 95 minute documentary film “Earthlings”, about the fact that ‘We Share this Earth’ with all other creatures who are also, of this Earth.

The Three Stages of Truth

The Three Stages of Truth

Earthlings  Make the Connection

Earthlings
Make the Connection

It was narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, features music by Moby, was directed by Shaun Monson, and co-produced by Maggie QWe need to change the way we see and interpret our relationship to the earth, the cosmos and to all humans and inhabitants of this earth.

Buddha Nature – Our Relationship to Mother Earth is an article reprinted from the book “Love Letter to the Earth“, written by the Zen Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh.

Thich Nhat Hanh Zen Buddhist Monk

Thich Nhat Hanh Zen Buddhist Monk

Love Letter to the Earth

Love Letter to the Earth

Saving the Earth from Ourselves, an interview of the Greenpeace International Director Kumi Kaidoo by Bill Moyers  in Moyers & company.

Moyers & company interview September 2013 with Greenpeace International Director Kum Naidoo on Saving the Earth from Ourselves

Moyers & company interview September 2013 with Greenpeace International Director Kum Naidoo on Saving the Earth from Ourselves

Humans, along with every living thing, are inseparable from the earth and the cosmos. From the perspective of both Native American Indians and Buddhists, when we recognize that the Earth is our Mother and the Sun our Father, we see that just as our biological mother and father and ancestors are within us, inside us, so are the earth and the sun. We need not pray to some abstract god or deity, but realize that the gift and miracle of life and all that we require, is available here and now. All living creatures, regardless of gender, race or species, are children of this planet. Each have the right to life, freedom of movement and lack of suffering. We need not merely recognize that our planet is in peril, but realize that we CAN do something about it. It is possible. It is a choice. Yes We Can. We need to reorient how we see ourselves and our relationship to the earth – as if our lives depended on it – because they do. Money is an abstract concept which appears to be scarce, yet it IS available to invest in the renewable energies and technologies that will help to reduce global warming.

Trillions of dollars became available to ‘bail out’ the large bankers who gambled with the investments of millions of people. Money is there to phase out fossil fuel dependence and reinvest in a global economic campaign that would create jobs in renewable energies worldwide. This economic and spiritual revolution CAN happen. As I mentioned in a former blog, https://carolkeiter.wordpress.com/2012/11/15/notch-up-the-governments-role-with-obamaworks-a-version-of-roosevelts-wpa/ just as Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933 orchestrated the “New Deal”, implementing the (WPA) Works Progress Administration in response to the depression following the 1929 stock market crash in the USA, Obama could create an ‘ObamaWorks’ plan. He could join with world leaders to implement a massive global renewable energy investment plan; to introduce jobs utilizing clean, renewable technologies that would grow economies AND ensure a cleaner and sustainable environment. This can be accomplished by making the choice to step outside of the status quo of fossil fuel dependency; which corporate leaders in the industries culpable for environmental destruction, manipulate legislation through their lobbyists to impede. We have this choice. Our lives and those of future generations depend on it.

Each of us are centered in our own worlds, in which we hold certain things and people precious. Sometimes we forget their value, until after an event threatens to take them away; our health, freedom, rights, a child, parent, partner, project, home…When we cultivate mindfulness and recognize the miracle of life, it is clear that we actively create each moment of our lives by how we interpret, think, speak and act. Through gratitude and the recognition of our responsibility, we can harness the power that we have. To do this, it is vital that we are aware. We always have the choice to smile, to accept and to love.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>In the film Earthlings,

Earth from a satellite image

Earth from a satellite image

Spiraling weather system by satellite on Earth

Spiraling weather system on Earth viewed by satellite

The point is that all creatures which inhabit the earth are ‘earthlings’. There’s no sexism, racism or speciesism in the term. Humans share this world with hundreds of millions of creatures. This encompasses each and every one of us; warm-blooded, cold-blooded, vertebrate and invertebrate, bird, reptile, amphibian, fish, mammal and human. Humans share this planet with millions of other creatures, as we all evolve here together.

We all share the desire for food and water, shelter, companionship, freedom of movement and avoidance of pain.

Humans earthlings crowding the street

Humans earthlings crowding the street

fish earthlings crowding their waterway, working in unison

fish earthlings crowding their waterway, working in unison

Chimpanzee caring for child

Chimpanzee caring for child

Cheetah with cub

Cheetah with cub

However, it is the human earthling that tends to dominate the Earth, often times treating other fellow earthlings and living beings as mere objects, which is what is meant by ‘speciesism’. Speciesism, by analogy to sexism and racism

Sexism Suffragettes in Boston, USA in 1920 demanding right as women

Sexism Suffragettes in Boston, USA in 1920 demanding right as women

Sexism

Sexism

Racism Hitler at Rally in Nuremberg, Germany 1929

Racism Hitler at Rally in Nuremberg, Germany 1929

Racism_Ku_Klux_Klan_Georgia_USA_1950

Racism

reveals the domination of one over another who is different, violating the principles of equality and overriding the greater interest of others. In each case the pattern is identical.

Speciesism as demonstrated by the sport of conquest

Speciesism as demonstrated by the sport of conquest

No matter what the nature of the ‘being’, the principle of equality implies that the suffering of one is counted equally with the suffering of any other being. The moral imperative is respect. Humans who have power, tend to exploit those who lack it, including other beings with whom we share this planet.

Like us, animals embody the mystery and wonder of consciousness. Like us, they are not only in the world, they are aware of it. Like us, they are the psychological center of a world which is their own. We have a psychological kinship with them. Nobel prize winner, Isaac Bashevis Singer 1904-1991, expresses this through the character in his novel “Enemies a Love Story”. Herman states “In their behavior towards creatures, all men were Nazi’s. The smugness with which man could do with other species as he pleased exemplify the most extreme racist theories, the principle that might is right.” In comparison to the Holocaust, one group of living beings anguishes beneath the hands of another.

Caged animals in horrific conditions, going to slaughter

Caged animals in horrific conditions, going to slaughter

Baboon within cage

Baboon within cage

In his book “The Outermost HouseHenry Beston writes http://www.goodreads.com/work/quotes/308220-the-outermost-house-a-year-of-life-on-the-great-beach-of-cape-cod that  “We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals.”

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>In “Love Letter to the Earth“, Thich Nhat Hanh has a passionate appeal for ecological mindfulness and the strengthening of our relationship to the Earth. He reveals that it is vital that we recognize and respond to the stress we are putting on the Earth if civilization is to survive. UTNE Reader features a reprint of the message of his book in the article “Buddha Nature and Our Relationship With Mother Earth“. Summarizing his points, Hanh writes “At this very moment, the Earth is above you, below you, all around you, and even inside you. The Earth is everywhere. You may be used to thinking of the Earth as only the ground beneath your feet. But the water, the sea, the sky, and everything … outside us and everything inside us comes from the Earth. We often forget that the planet we are living on has given us all the elements that make up our bodies. The water in our flesh, our bones, and all the microscopic cells inside our bodies all come from the Earth and are part of the Earth. The Earth is not just the environment we live in. We are the Earth and we are always carrying her within us

Realizing this, we can see that the Earth is truly alive. We are a living, breathing manifestation of this beautiful and generous planet. Knowing this, we can begin to transform our relationship to the Earth. That is the relationship each of us must have with the Earth if the Earth is to survive, and if we are to survive as well. In fact, the earth will survive with or without us.

Elephants

Penguins

He identifies one key issue as having the potential to create a tipping point. He believes that we need to move beyond the concept of the “environment,” which leads people to experience themselves and Earth as two separate entities and to see the planet only in terms of what it can do for them. Rejecting the conventional economic approach, Thich Nhat Hanh shows that mindfulness and a spiritual revolution are needed to protect nature and limit climate change.

The Earth Contains the Whole Cosmos

When we look deeply into the Earth, we can see the presence of the whole cosmos. A lot of our fear, hatred, anger, and feelings of separation and alienation come from the idea that we are separate from the planet. We see ourselves as the center of the universe and are concerned primarily with our own personal survival…But we need to do more than use recycled products or donate money to environmental groups. We have to change our whole relationship with the Earth.

When we look deeply at a blade of grass or at a tree, we can see that it’s not mere matter. It has its own kind of intelligence. For example, a seed knows how to grow into a plant with roots, leaves, flowers, and fruit…A dust particle is not just matter; each of its atoms has intelligence and is a living reality.

In the Buddhist tradition, we say there is mind and there are objects of mind, and that they manifest at the same time. We can’t separate them. Objects of mind are created by the mind itself. The way we perceive the world around us depends entirely on our way of looking at it. If we understand the Earth as a living, breathing organism, we can heal ourselves and heal the Earth as well. When our physical body is sick, we need to stop, rest, and pay attention to it. We have to stop our thinking, return to our in-breath and out-breath, and come home to our bodOur mind is the consciousness of the cosmos.

In his book, “The Lives of a Cell”, biologist Lewis Thomas describes our planet as a living organism. His essay focuses on how connected humanity is to nature and how we must make strides to understand our role. He arrives at the insight that the whole planet is like a giant living cell whose parts are all linked in symbiosis. He likens the Earth to an organized, self-contained being, a “live creature, full of information and marvelously skilled in handling the sun.”

We can think of the sun and the earth as our true parents. The Buddha, Mohammed, Jesus Christ and all our wonderful teachers are children of this planet. Just as we carry the DNA of our biological mother and father within us, we carry the sun and the Earth in each of our cells. It’s easy to think that this highly creative force could have a human form. Yet rather than God being an old man with a white beard sitting in the sky, God is not outside of creation. God is inside every living being. What we call “the divine,” is none other than the energy of awakening, of peace, of understanding, and of love, which is to be found not only in every human being, but in every species on Earth.

In Buddhism, we say every sentient being has the ability to be awakened and to understand deeply. We call this Buddha nature. The deer, the dog, the cat, the squirrel, and the bird all have Buddha nature. And what about inanimate species? The Earth herself has Buddha nature, therefore all her children must have Buddha nature, too. Every blade of grass, every tree, every plant, every creature large or small are children of the planet Earth, and therefore have Buddha nature. Everyone has the capacity to live happily and with a sense of responsibility toward our mother, the Earth. Once we have this insight of interbeing, we can have real communication with the Earth. This is the highest possible form of prayer. We don’t need blind faith to see this. We don’t need to address our prayers or express our gratitude to a remote or abstract deity with whom it may be difficult or impossible to be in touch. We can address our prayers and express our gratitude directly to the Earth.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>In Saving the Earth from OurselvesBill Moyers interviews the Kumi Naidoo, the South African human rights activist and International Director of Greenpeace.

Greenpeace International Director Kumi Naidoo

Greenpeace International Director Kumi Naidoo

Greenpeace Kumi Naidoo homepage We Share Our Planet Help us remind those who forget

Greenpeace Kumi Naidoo homepage We Share Our Planet
Help us remind those who forget

They discuss the politics of climate change and the urgency of environmental activism. The recent actions of Greenpeace International environmental activists are mentioned as they attempted to climb an oil platform in the Arctic to protest the drilling for fossil fuels in this fragile ecology. They were confronted by gun carrying soldiers of the Russian Coast guard. The following day, a Russian helicopter landed on the Greenpeace ship ‘the Arctic Sunrise’ and seized it. Some of the Arctic 30 Activists have been released. Greenpeace is posting continual updates on their website. Greenpeace has often confronted governments and corporations head-on with civil disobedience.

In fact, as of December 26, 2013, news headlines claim that 14 of the 30 activists have been given approval to leave Russia.

Born and raised in South Africa, by his teenage years, Kumi Naidoo was such a vocal and prominent opponent of the racist policies in South Africa of apartheid, that he was beaten and jailed many times by the white regime. He finally escaped to Great Britain, where he was awarded a attended a Rhodes Scholarship to attend Oxford. With the end of apartheid,

KumiNaidoo together with Nelson Mandela at the end of Aparthed

KumiNaidoo together with Nelson Mandela at the end of Aparthed

he headed back to South Africa where he became head of Greenpeace International, bringing his negotiation and advocacy skills to lead an organization with 3 million members.

Naidoo mentions that what happens in the arctic affects the globe. Drilling there has not yet started and they are doing everything they can to prevent this. History teaches us, that all of the struggles and injustices, whether slavery, a woman’s right to choose, apartheid move forward, until decent men and women say ‘enough is enough’ and are willing to put their lives on the line. Moyers points out that Greenpeace owes some of its heritage and DNA to the Quakers; a religious society of friends started in 1660. They are witnesses for peace. Quakers share a refusal to participate in war, oppose slavery, encourage prison reform and social justice. Naidoo mentions that the most important thing that we can take from the Quakers is their commitment to peace, justice and a notion their notion called ‘bearing witness’. If there is an injustice in the world, those of us who have the capacity to witness it, document and record it in order to inform the world about it, have the moral responsibility to do so.

There is Incidentally an also a human’s rights watch group called “Witness”, an international nonprofit organization that has been using the power of video and storytelling to open the eyes of the world to human rights violations. They empower people to transform their personal stories of abuse into powerful tools for justice, promoting public engagement and policy change.

Kumi explains that the Arctic serves as the refrigerator and air conditioner of the planet. It helps regulate the temperatures globally by deflecting the harsh rays of the sunlight. Massive melting glaciers cause the sea levels to rise. He mentions that our leaders don’t connect the different issues and challenges that we face, with the reality of what is happening environmentally. The genocide in Darfur, in western Sudan, was reported by the media as an ethnic or quasi religious conflict, when in fact it was the first major resource war brought about by climate impact. Darfur neighbors Lake Chad.

Lake Chad in 1972 within NIger, Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon

Lake Chad in 1972 within NIger, Nigeria, Chad and Cameroon

Lake Chad used to be one of the largest inland seas of the world.

Lake Chad in 2007 shrunk to the size of a pond

Lake Chad in 2007 shrunk to the size of a pond

It has now shrunk to the size of a pond. Therefore, water, land and food scarcity as the result of the absence of this lake, were the toxic mix that caused this war to occur.

Obama’s words and slogans during his first election campaign were, “Yes We Can”, “the Fierce Urgency of Now” and  a “Planet in Peril”. Kumi states that we are playing political and commercial poker with the planet. The planet doesn’t need to be saved, the planet will come back. What is at stake, is humanities ability to live in coexistence with the planet for centuries to come. Any leader has the ethical imperative and responsibility to act in a way that does not imperil your children and grand children’s future.

350.org  demonstrates that we must write off 80% of fossil fuel reserves completely, and reinvest  in renewable energy; wind, solar, wave technology, to allow sustainable life on earth.

Naidoo mentioned the The World Economic Forum, an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world through mobilizing business and political leaders and engaging academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas. The World Bank issued a report: Turn Down the Heat

World Bank study Turn Down the Heat Why a 4 degree waker world MUST be avoided

World Bank study Turn Down the Heat Why a 4 degree waker world MUST be avoided

Kumi’s deceased mother imprinted him with some very compelling ideologies. She often mentioned that “It’s much better to try and fail, than to fail to try”.  As well,   that “We have the option to be part of the problem, or part of the solution”. She said to him that “when you see God in the eyes of every human being that you meet, then you will live your life seeing  humanity in everyone”.

I’ve already blogged about the subject of economic might in the midst of environmental plight, it’s an illusion and paradox comparing the two. I mention in this blog the (GDP) the Gross Domestic Problem compared to Bhutan’s (GNH) Gross National Happiness. http://digesthis.wordpress.com/2012/04/12/gross_domestic_problem_-why-measurement-of-wealth-depends-on-a-healthy-environment/

Kumi mentioned in the interview a prophesy, or rather proverb of the Cree Indians, Native Americans living in various parts of North America. Their territory stretches over the geopolitical borders of the United States and Canada. The Cree Indian Prophecy,

When all the trees have been cut down,
when all the animals have been hunted,

Cree Indian Proverb Only After

Cree Indian Proverb Only After

when all the waters are polluted,
when all the air is unsafe to breathe,
only then will you discover you cannot eat money.

― Cree Indian Prophecy,

To sum up the message of all three, I add, that if you see the gift of creation in all of creation, in every person, every creature and in every form of life and inanimate parts of this planet as the gift of creation, and feel gratitude for every breath that you take, you will recognize that God is everywhere, and we have the responsibility to take care of it.

-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-

I write to follow my bliss. Among various spiritual guides, Deepak Chopra has teamed with Opra Winfrey to bring to you the  21 day meditation challenge. Though it is already underway, there is always time to pause and step out of one’s mind and into one’s heart and breath. Their messages are about connecting within yourself to find out who you are, to discover why you are here on this planet in order to discern your own path.  I’m doing my best to follow mine.

Although my entire post is prompted by my abhorrence of materialism and greed, I nevertheless personally need money. In the process of researching and writing my blogs, to complete my first book, to continue to compose music (that will incorporate various animal sounds) to give these creatures a voice,  I need to pay my rent, to have shelter,  electricity, a desk and food. I make no money doing this and have a very small ecological ‘footprint’. I mostly ride bicycle. Because I’m currently not under ANY umbrella, corporate or otherwise, nor have funding or grants, I’m asking that if you read this far, either to make a donation yourself, or ask a friend with more capital (more disposable income) to make one on your behalf! I’ll take .001% of any billionaires that might happen to be reading this. ha ha! So I’m campaigning for myself and asking you to contribute, if you can !-)) This button leads will feed my PayPal. Any credit card or direct deposit transaction will be secure! thanks. Any feedback is always welcome as well. With love!

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mind closed eyes wide open

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TED talk James Hansen | Tax on Fossil Fuel Companies < reduce CO2 to 350 ppm | WWF The 3% Solution

The scientist James Hansen gives an informed TED Talk presentation about ‘Climate Change’, pointing out a way that our government(s) could reduce the level of CO2 in the atmosphere, enough, to avoid the catastrophe that we are headed for. Knowing that it’s essential that we diminish the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere in (ppm) part per million, to 350, Hansen has a plan; a tax on fossil fuel companies. And yet, our government(s) (the USA is up there on the guilty list) not only appear to ignore this fact, but are encouraging corporations to do all sorts of activities that will accelerate the rise in temperatures even more.

http://www.ted.com/talks/james_hansen_why_i_must_speak_out_about_climate_change.html

During the former Bush administration, Hansen was informed that he could no longer give talks without first having NASA censor them. At that time, the NASA Mission Statement, which Hansen had used previously to introduce his presentations, was suddenly no longer allowed. “To Understand and Protect the Home Planet”, was now omitted.

Hansen’s idea, is to diminish the level of CO2, by the government putting a tax on fossil fuel companies. This carbon fee on fossil fuel companies, would then be distributed equally to all (legal) residents, 100% of which could be used to stimulate the economy and innovations, to move us rapidly towards a clean energy future, with the government not keeping one dime.

Jim Dipeso Republicans for Environmental Protection, is quoted saying that this idea sounds, sound! In his words, it’s “Transparent. Market-based. Does not enlarge the government. Leaves energy decision to individual choices.. Sounds like a conservative climate plan.”

Yet, instead of placing a rising fee on carbon emissions to discourage the process, our government is forcing the public to subsidize it (400 – 500 B dollars per year, world-wide) and in fact, encouraging the extraction of every fossil fuels through: mountain top removal, longwall mining, fracking, tar sands, tar shale, deep ocean arctic drilling…A path which if continued, will not only ensure more environmental destruction, but also lead the world to the tipping point of ice-sheet disintegration, which will accelerate the warming process. This warming will inevitably commit a large fraction of the world’s species to distinction, besides the massive extremes in weather which are already occurring, resulting in massive famines…

And the longer we wait in taking action to divert this process, the more difficult it will become; until it will be irreversible.

A new report from WWF and CDP speak of “The 3% Solution: Driving Profits Through Carbon Reduction” as an initiative to move companies forward towards profitable and practical ways to reduce emissions to help curb climate change. The CEO’s of WWF and CDP were joined by Steven Swartz, a partner of McKinsey & Company, in a webcast unveiling their groundbreaking analysis. World Wildlife Fund reveal that climate change poses a fundamental threat to the places, people and species that WWF works to protect. The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) is an independent, non-profit organization working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by providing a global system for companies and cities to measure, disclose, manage and share vital environmental information. Working together, the two of them have chartered a means to instigate companies to substantially reduce carbon emissions, while increasing resiliency, ROI and profits, in “The 3% Solution“. The report launch can be viewed in a webcast recording which took place on June 18th, 2013.

Goal for the reduction in parts per million of Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere
http://www.350.org/

Incidentally, there have been recent detections by scientists of methane bubbling up from cracks in the permafrost in the continental shelf of the Arctic, which is 30 times more potent in trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide. Read more about this in this Times article.

DoTheMath | 350.org | Bill McKibben | Global Climate Crisis | Washington D.C. |

Just attended and participated in the final day of Bill McKibben’s DoTheMath tour in Washington D.C.

http://digesthis.wordpress.com/2012/11/21/dothemath-350-org-bill-mckibben-global-climate-crisis-washington-d-c/

link to Carol Keiter’s blog re: DoTheMath on digesthis”>

Deafening Silence on Climate issue in U.S. Presidential Debates

There was no mention of the ‘climate’ issue by the U.S. presidential candidates nor their moderators, nor the media, during the debates.

Links re: mainstream media and political candidates not speaking about the climate

Amy Goodman on Democracy Now has featured Bill McKibben – founder of 350.org – (on the ppm of carbon dioxide acceptable in the atmosphere) .Bill McKibben was one of the featured speakers on Democracy Now, regarding the lack of anyone’s mention of the climate.

McKibben is staging a new tour in November of 2012 to inform the public about the terrifying math corresponding with the climate crisis. http://math.350.org/

More recently, Amy Goodman has featured Noam Chomsky on her program, discussing what topics were glossed over on the presidential debates.

As well, a recent tomdispatch blog features Rebecca Solnit writing about climate and the fact that it was not discussed whatsoever in the presidential debates.

Rebecca Solnit mentions that basically both candidates are keeping their mouths shut “After all, we made it through four “debates” with 60 million or more viewers each, and not a single one of the four moderators asked a question about climate change, nor did a presidential or vice-presidential candidate let the phrase pass his lips or bring the subject up.” I presume that they’re whipped by the corporate powers that feature the U.S. Government and the media. “Hundreds of thousands of words on events in Benghazi, Libya, and just that one sarcastic sentence on climate change. Someday people will surely look back on this election season with a kind of nightmarish wonder at the fear and denial our leading politicians (who knew better) exhibited in the face of the power and financial clout

of the

energy industry

and its lobbyists.”

Too Potent to Pass | TomDispatch feat. Peter Van Buren: What They Won’t Talk About in the Foreign Policy Debates

I’ve only recently been exposed to Tom DisPatch; self described antidote to the Mainstream Media. It was a referral from the online Utne Reader, an alternative press magazine which I’ve valued as a source of information for years. Peter Van Buren’s style of delivery and content emphatically blows open the doors of perception. I felt compelled to re post his blog, in awe of his insights and frankly, because I believe we all need to be shaken out of our presumptions.

re-post:

Don’t Ask and Don’t Tell
Six Critical Foreign Policy Questions That Won’t Be Raised in the Presidential Debates
By Peter Van Buren

We had a debate club back in high school. Two teams would meet in the auditorium, and Mr. Garrity would tell us the topic, something 1970s-ish like “Resolved: Women Should Get Equal Pay for Equal Work” or “World Communism Will Be Defeated in Vietnam.” Each side would then try, through persuasion and the marshalling of facts, to clinch the argument. There’d be judges and a winner.

Today’s presidential debates are a long way from Mr. Garrity’s club. It seems that the first rule of the debate club now is: no disagreeing on what matters most. In fact, the two candidates rarely interact with each other at all, typically ditching whatever the question might be for some rehashed set of campaign talking points, all with the complicity of the celebrity media moderators preening about democracy in action. Waiting for another quip about Big Bird is about all the content we can expect.

But the joke is on us. Sadly, the two candidates are stand-ins for Washington in general, a “war” capital whose denizens work and argue, sometimes fiercely, from within a remarkably limited range of options. It was D.C. on autopilot last week for domestic issues; the next two presidential debates are to be in part or fully on foreign policy challenges (of which there are so many). When it comes to foreign — that is, military — policy, the gap between Barack and Mitt is slim to the point of nonexistent on many issues, however much they may badger each other on the subject. That old saw about those who fail to understand history repeating its mistakes applies a little too easily here: the last 11 years have added up to one disaster after another abroad, and without a smidgen of new thinking (guaranteed not to put in an appearance at any of the debates to come), we doom ourselves to more of the same.

So in honor of old Mr. Garrity, here are five critical questions that should be explored (even if all of us know that they won’t be) in the foreign policy-inclusive presidential debates scheduled for October 16th, and 22nd — with a sixth bonus question thrown in for good measure.

1. Is there an end game for the global war on terror?

The current president, elected on the promise of change, altered very little when it came to George W. Bush’s Global War on Terror (other than dropping the name). That jewel-in-the-crown of Bush-era offshore imprisonment, Guantanamo, still houses over 160 prisoners held without trial or hope or a plan for what to do with them. While the U.S. pulled its troops out of Iraq — mostly because our Iraqi “allies” flexed their muscles a bit and threw us out — the war in Afghanistan stumbles on. Drone strikes and other forms of conflict continue in the same places Bush tormented: Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan (and it’s clear that northern Mali is heading our way).

A huge national security state has been codified in a host of new or expanded intelligence agencies under the Homeland Security umbrella, and Washington seems able to come up with nothing more than a whack-a-mole strategy for ridding itself of the scourge of terror, an endless succession of killings of “al-Qaeda Number 3” guys. Counterterrorism tsar John Brennan, Obama’s drone-meister, has put it this way: “We’re not going to rest until al-Qaeda the organization is destroyed and is eliminated from areas in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Africa, and other areas.”

So, candidates, the question is: What’s the end game for all this? Even in the worst days of the Cold War, when it seemed impossible to imagine, there was still a goal: the “end” of the Soviet Union. Are we really consigned to the Global War on Terror, under whatever name or no name at all, as an infinite state of existence? Is it now as American as apple pie?

2. Do today’s foreign policy challenges mean that it’s time to retire the Constitution?

A domestic policy crossover question here. Prior to September 11, 2001, it was generally assumed that our amazing Constitution could be adapted to whatever challenges or problems arose. After all, that founding document expanded to end the slavery it had once supported, weathered trials and misuses as dumb as Prohibition and as grave as Red Scares, Palmer Raids, and McCarthyism. The First Amendment grew to cover comic books, nude art works, and a million electronic forms of expression never imagined in the eighteenth century. Starting on September 12, 2001, however, challenges, threats, and risks abroad have been used to justify abandoning core beliefs enshrined in the Bill of Rights. That bill, we are told, can’t accommodate terror threats to the Homeland. Absent the third rail of the Second Amendment and gun ownership (politicians touch it and die), nearly every other key amendment has since been trodden upon.

The First Amendment was sacrificed to silence whistleblowers and journalists. The Fourth and Fifth Amendments were ignored to spy on Americans at home and kill them with drones abroad. (September 30th was the one-year anniversary of the Obama administration’s first acknowledged murder without due process of an American — and later his teenaged son — abroad. The U.S. has similarly killed two other Americans abroad via drone, albeit “by accident.”) [Here’s a link I’ve added for a quick view of the Amendments to the United States Constitution]

So, candidates, the question is: Have we walked away from the Constitution? If so, shouldn’t we publish some sort of notice or bulletin?

3. What do we want from the Middle East?

Is it all about oil? Israel? Old-fashioned hegemony and containment? What is our goal in fighting an intensifying proxy war with Iran, newly expanded into cyberspace? Are we worried about a nuclear Iran, or just worried about a new nuclear club member in general? Will we continue the nineteenth century game of supporting thug dictators who support our policies in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Libya (until overwhelmed by events on the ground), and opposing the same actions by other thugs who disagree with us like Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad? That kind of policy thinking did not work out too well in the long run in Central and South America, and history suggests that we should make up our mind on what America’s goals in the Middle East might actually be. No cheating now — having no policy is a policy of its own.

Candidates, can you define America’s predominant interest in the Middle East and sketch out a series of at least semi-sensical actions in support of it?

4. What is your plan to right-size our military and what about downsizing the global mission?

The decade — and counting — of grinding war in Iraq and Afghanistan has worn the American military down to its lowest point since Vietnam. Though drugs and poor discipline are not tearing out its heart as they did in the 1970s, suicide among soldiers now takes that first chair position. The toll on families of endless deployments is hard to measure but easy to see. The expanding role of the military abroad (reconstruction, peacekeeping, disaster relief, garrisoning a long necklace of bases from Rota, Spain, to Kadena, Okinawa) seems to require a vast standing army. At the same time, the dramatic increase in the development and use of a new praetorian guard, Joint Special Operations Command, coupled with a militarized CIA and its drones, have given the president previously unheard of personal killing power. Indeed, Obama has underscored his unchecked solo role as the “decider” on exactly who gets obliterated by drone assassins.

So, candidates, here’s a two-parter: Given that a huge Occupy Everywhere army is killing more of its own via suicide than any enemy, what will you do to right-size the military and downsize its global mission? Secondly, did this country’s founders really intend for the president to have unchecked personal war-making powers?

5. Since no one outside our borders buys American exceptionalism anymore, what’s next? What is America’s point these days?

The big one. We keep the old myth alive that America is a special, good place, the most “exceptional” of places in fact, but in our foreign policy we’re more like some mean old man, reduced to feeling good about himself by yelling at the kids to get off the lawn (or simply taking potshots at them).

During the Cold War, the American ideal represented freedom to so many people, even if the reality was far more ambiguous. Now, who we are and what we are abroad seems so much grimmer, so much less appealing (as global opinion polls regularly indicate). In light of the Iraq invasion and occupation, and the failure to embrace the Arab Spring, America the Exceptional, has, it seems, run its course.

America the Hegemonic, a tough if unattractive moniker, also seems a goner, given the slo-mo defeat in Afghanistan and the never-ending stalemate that is the Global War on Terror. Resource imperialist? America’s failure to either back away from the Greater Middle East and simply pay the price for oil, or successfully grab the oil, adds up to a “policy” that only encourages ever more instability in the region. The saber rattling that goes with such a strategy (if it can be called that) feels angry, unproductive, and without any doubt unbelievably expensive.

So candidates, here are a few questions: Who exactly are we in the world and who do you want us to be? Are you ready to promote a policy of fighting to be planetary top dog — and we all know where that leads — or can we find a place in the global community? Without resorting to the usual “shining city on a hill” metaphors, can you tell us your vision for America in the world? (Follow up: No really, cut the b.s and answer this one, gentlemen. It’s important!)

6. Bonus Question: To each of the questions above add this: How do you realistically plan to pay for it? For every school and road built in Iraq and Afghanistan on the taxpayer dollar, why didn’t you build two here in the United States? When you insist that we can’t pay for crucial needs at home, explain to us why these can be funded abroad. If your response is we had to spend that money to “defend America,” tell us why building jobs in this country doesn’t do more to defend it than anything done abroad.

Now that might spark a real debate, one that’s long, long overdue.

Peter Van Buren, a 24-year veteran Foreign Service Officer at the State Department, spent a year in Iraq. Now in Washington and a TomDispatch regular, he writes about Iraq, the Middle East, and U.S. diplomacy at his blog, We Meant Well. Following the publication of his book We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People (the American Empire Project, Metropolitan Books), the Department of State began termination proceedings, stripping him of his security clearance and diplomatic credentials. Through the efforts of the Government Accountability Project and the ACLU, Van Buren instead retired from the State Department with his full benefits of service.

Copyright 2012 Peter Van Buren