What Matters

What Matters

As I approach my 62nd birthday (August 22), I reflect on the news stories I see/hear almost daily, now, that corroborate and validate most of my life’s choices, values and beliefs. Sharing, now, so you don’t all have to re-invent the wheel. Mostly I/we were right. Get with it.

Interactions matter. Treating all humans with respect and meeting humans needs (food, clothing, shelter, meaningful and well-paid work, safety) properly are right. Equality, egalitarianism, acceptance, compassion, kindness and respect are the right ways to greet, treat and live with all others, regardless of perceived or actual differences among us and changes in circumstances. Ending oppression, discrimination, bias, prejudice and all forms of subjugation must occur.

RespectKindness
image from http://www.tomvmorris.com
Respect

Government and economics matter. Democracy (when it works) and socialism are right: we must listen to and take care of each other.

Conflict resolution matters. War is wrong, especially war that only makes profits for a few corporations and individuals and ruins land, kills/maims people and destroys economies for everyone else. All the “police actions”/wars the USA has engaged in since World War II (and some of our actions during World War I and World War II) were/are horribly wrong. Millions have been harmed or died for NOTHING except to enrich a few. We must learn to communicate better, de-escalate, use diplomacy, engage in dialogue, compromise and yield.

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image from http://www.popularresistance.org
Peace

Health matters. Eating healthfully and organically is right: better for us, better for the farmers, better for the environment. Contact sports that cause head injuries must end: change the rules or close down those sports completely for children and teens and give adults information that allows them to make educated choices about participation. Sugary foods and drinks, salty and fatty snacks and other negative-impact foods should be made less available and/or taxed very highly so fewer people can eat/get them so readily.

Other beings matter. Treating animals with respect at all times if we are going to use, eat (which some would argue is wrong), imprison and otherwise subjugate them (less stress and pain during and before slaughter, while being raised and during captivity of all kinds) is right.

Consumers’ choices matter. Choosing to purchase items that are made by people who are paid well, treated well and free to come and go is right. Choosing to purchase items whose production (harvest/manufacture/acquisition) does not harm or destroy the planet, the economy, or the people involved is right.

you-can-make-a-difference
image from http://arabedrossian.org
Healthy planet

Parenting requires time, effort, knowledge, education and support to be done well. Childcare can be a positive aspect of young children’s lives as long as they also have good parenting.

Minds and bodies matter. Meditation, yoga, stress management, play, listening to each other better, being outdoors more and learning/listening to music/making art all help families, businesses, schools and individuals in every possible way. Beauty, nature and gratitude are important. Learn/include and do these. Drink a lot of clean water. Sleep more and in better conditions.

healthy body and mind
Healthy choices

Reproductive freedom and rights are integral to a woman’s dignity and independence and are the business of no one else besides each woman and her chosen medical team.

Religions whose leaders or principles restrict the freedom or impinge upon the safety of or intend to demean anyone, inspire divisiveness or hatred, or foment disrespect for non-believers or some members of their own sects because of gender, age, sexual orientation or other characteristics are not to be tolerated any longer and must be ended.

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image from http://www.patheos.com
Civil and personal rights

Facts are not subject to opinions. No one cares what anyone thinks about facts. Facts are not optional. People who misunderstand, misuse or misguide themselves or others regarding any facts (about the impacts of climate change, the dangers of fracking, etc.) are not to be given any credibility or listened to by anyone with even moderate intelligence.

Tyson quote
Dr. Neil Degrasse Tyson, Ph.D., facts quote

Play time matters. Violence begets violence: video games, TV shows and films, music lyrics that demonstrate/engage users in repeated and frequent incidents of violence (personal, sexual, group) desensitize the viewers/players and generate much more violence overall in the culture. Games/shows that degrade women/girls and depict members of particular ethnic or other groups as “the enemy” or the objects of degradation cause users/viewers to adopt these perspectives and behave badly towards these individuals in actual encounters. Children’s and teens’ time using these games or watching these shows must be curtailed. Bring back more outdoor play, longer and better equipment for recess play indoors and outside. Sports and games that encourage coaches/leaders to discriminate among, exclude or otherwise demean participants or activities in training or play that cause players harm must be changed or stopped.

recess
Play

Excellence matters. Skills, talents, education and intelligence are not all equally distributed or acquired. We are not all the same even though we are to be treated with equal respect. Not everyone wins. Everyone is not equally good at everything. Not everyone can earn an “A.” 49.9% of any group is below average, by definition. Get used to it.

Collaboration matters. Governments, organizations/groups of all types and businesses of all sizes operate more successfully when they utilize collaborative, inclusive engagement rather than hierarchical, exclusionary dominance do better economically, have higher morale, have lower attrition/crime rates and better attendance/participation.

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image from http://www.cptwebs.com
Collaboration

I could have provided a lot of research URLs to back up each of these claims, but I don’t need to, any longer. They are all true. YOU do the research.

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Why I have Always Hated Independence Day in the USA

Why I have Always Hated Independence Day (July 4th) in the USA

I am not the only one, either.

Fireworks
I could enjoy the fireworks from a great distance and up high, only. Sometimes I could get to my own or someone else’s rooftop or high window and watch from afar and admire the colors without hearing the awful noises: those I could appreciate, somewhat. But, I never forgot, even as a little girl, that these contraptions are supposed to represent bombs and I hate bombs, I hate war, and I, according to my mom and my own memories, have always hated fireworks up close. Still do.

illusion of democracy fireworks
image from http://www.247newsworld.com

Troy Patterson REALLY hates fireworks: http://www.slate.com/articles/life/a_fine_whine/2009/07/fireworks_suck.html

Patriotism
I am deeply disappointed in this country and have been for as long as I can remember. How can anyone around my age (60, born in 1954), whose first clear memory of a President is the insane, lying criminal, Richard M. Nixon, be patriotic?

The USA, in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, drafted and then sent millions of my classmates (and they were BOYS) to their maiming, mental health breakdowns, drug addictions or deaths in Korea, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia FOR NO GOOD REASON.

ALL the “wars” the USA has “fought” since World War II have been nothing but thinly disguised efforts to make some a-holes richer and further the political agendae of yet another group of ignorant buffoons that the people of this country keep electing.

It is shameful, embarrassing and horrible that the USA is STILL DOING THAT today in Iraq, Afghanistan, and anywhere else the war-mongers can stir up enough jingoism to get people to volunteer.

When Barbara Streisand sang “America, the Beautiful” for Bill Clinton’s campaign show, I cried. Not because it was so wonderful or she was so great, and not because I was moved by Clinton (the women-exploiting, lying sack of sh*t). No. I cried because I cannot feel what I wished I could feel: I can feel no pride and no love for a country I have lived in all my life.

Whatever does anyone have to be proud of? What is there to love besides the lands’ natural wonders (the ones we haven’t yet ruined) and the people we already care about?

The USA shows up far too low or is the lowest on the ranked lists, lowest among ALL “modern,” or “Westernized” countries, in too many categories to count. I’m talking about our ratings on handling issues that really matter, like infant mortality, educational attainment (high school graduation), child poverty, racist police violence, racist incarceration, numbers incarcerated, numbers of addicts/alcoholics, gun violence/mass shootings, domestic violence, rape, homelessness: on and on and on.

Aaron Sorkin nailed this problem (our mistaken belief in the USA as the “greatest country in the world”) in the rant he wrote for Jeff Daniels’ news anchor character to give in the HBO TV show, Newsroom (responses start after audience-member’s question at 3:10; Daniels’ actual rant begins at about 4:40): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rpn0vh2Rj0Y or https://youtu.be/Rpn0vh2Rj0Y

Are YOU an American and proud? How? I really want to know how you reconcile the actual dismal facts of this country’s historical record and current terrible policies and behaviors around the world with your desire to be a patriot: they don’t make enough booze in the world to drown out the noise of that cognitive dissonance for me.

Celebrating War
At its core, Independence Day, July Fourth, celebrates the Revolutionary War and the newly formed United States of America’s “victory” in it. As a lifelong pacifist who abhors violence and would avoid it in every case, except as a last resort or best tactic to prevent further harm and death (as in World War II), I deplore all uses of violence and especially warfare.

Scotland recently had a VOTE to determine whether or not it should become independent from Britain. Did anyone consider that option in 1776? I highly doubt it. Maybe it wouldn’t have worked; we can’t know. But I do not want to celebrate the deployment of violent methods to achieve something that may well have been attainable by nonviolent means and certainly was not necessary.

Hundreds of thousands of people died in the USA’s Revolutionary War and subsequent wars of “independence” around the world, due to the USA’s “shining example.” I am as ashamed of all of those wars as if I had started them myself.

I also DO NOT SUPPORT THE TROOPS who currently serve in the USA military, since they serve as volunteers who decided to go kill people the USA and its deluded allies have no business killing, to destroy and steal property we have no business wrecking, and otherwise to wreak havoc in other people’s countries FOR NO GOOD REASON.

These “wars” have NOTHING to do with the attacks on the USA on 9/11/01 and have actually increased the terrorism in the world rather than helped it abate. If you don’t believe me, look at the rise in terror attacks and the growth of ISIS. How else do you explain those?

No one made them go. No one should have volunteered. If no one had volunteered, the “war efforts” would have died in one year or a few months. Truly.

NO ONE should have volunteered. Period.

Why would ANYONE “support” those “troops” and these activities? I really want to know.

The USA’s “image” or “brand” has been “slipping” in the world everywhere but Western Europe for over a decade because of our hypocrisies, torture training centers and usage of torture, pollution and degradation of the planet’s resources due to corporate greed and war-mongering at others’ expense. http://www.pewglobal.org/2014/07/14/chapter-1-the-american-brand/

That is another reason NOT to “celebrate” this country on July 4th.

Gratitude and Wishes
Whom am I grateful to? Bradley/Chelsea Manning. Julian Assange. Edward Snowden. Bernie Sanders. Daniel Ellsberg. Karen Silkwood. Rosa Parks. Bree Newsome.

Rolling-Rebellion-Taos-4th-of-July-Parade-gratitude1-e1405261595292
image from: http://www.globalresearch.ca

I Wish…the USA would join the world in better living and cooperation. Start with these:
–Sign the nuclear non-proliferation agreement.
–Provide universal healthcare for all citizens in the USA for free.
–Provide college educations at public universities to all students for free and eliminate/forgive ALL student loan debt right now.
–Sign the reduction in land-mines agreement.
–Sign the reduction in carbon emissions agreement.
–Sign all treaties that attempt to stop human trafficking, sex slavery, child abduction and forced human drug smuggling from occurring.
–Improve and provide housing, alternative health care, better education, enough food and actual public safety (better policing) for ALL our own citizens.
–Model caring, democratic living for the world.
–Stop all forms of discrimination based on religion, appearance, gender, sexual orientation, and other types of social identities.
–Stop all forms of rape, sexual attacks and domestic violence by enforcing the existing laws and making better ones everywhere.
–Reduce child abuse and child poverty by providing more opportunities for jobs and meaningful employment at living wages for all citizens who want to and are able to work.
–Provide free childcare and pre-school to all children.
–Stop all armed conflicts, destroy all mass weapons we own and stop producing them.
–Repurpose the military budget to serve our citizens better (see above).

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image from: http://kellidgordonlibertyblog.wordpress.com

What do you wish? Comment here. http://www.sallyember.com/blog

Best to you on this weekend, whatever you’re doing. I wish I could celebrate. Instead, I will meditate on world peace.