Third Paradigm is an out-of-the-box thinktank on community sovereignty and regenerative economics.
We look at how to take back our cities, farmland and water; our money, production and trade; our media, education and culture, our religion and even our God.
We present a people's history of the Bible and a parent's view on how to raise giving kids in a taking world.
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The other week we saw Elizabeth Warren on Democracy Now. I've just finished the book she wrote with her daughter, called The Two-Income Trap. One of the things she talked about was the need to build change into the consumer protection agency, and her request to the Netroots Nation that they help her with that. Designing for change seems like a novel approach, but it actually goes back 2500 years to the Tao te Ching. The Tao te Ching, from my understanding, is required to be translated anew every 50 years so that it never becomes frozen into doctrine. Unlike the Q'uran, where translation is forbidden, the Tao encourages interpretations by those who don't even read Chinese – the most famous being Stephen Mitchell's. Other favorites of mine are Ursula K. Le Guin's, which is subtitled "A Book About the Way and the Power of the Way," and my friend John Mabry's, which is called God as Nature Sees God. One of our assignments has been to read all three versions of a passage, and then to write our own. For our poetry selection today, I'll read Ursula K. Le Guin's version of passage 2 and my own, and then Ranier Maria Rilke's Book of Hours, Book 2, Verse 16. The music is Isolate by Moby from the Wait for Me CD.
That was the second passage of the Tao te Ching interpreted by Ursula K. Le Guin and then myself, followed by Rainer Maria Rilke's Book of Hours, Book Two, Verse 16. The music is...
This is Third Paradigm and we're talking about Connecting the DOTS, our new learning blog responding to Amy Goodman's Democracy Now. You can find it at UniverseCity.us or link through our website at ThirdParadigm.org.
It isn't unusual for religion to intersect politics in our lessons. Last Saturday we watched Democracy Now's interview of Percy Schmeiser, the Canadian farmer who took on Monsanto. My daughters think that Percy and his wife are adorable, and can't believe that any nasty company would threaten these sweet great-grandparents. They're really disturbed that Monsanto's VP of Public Relations gave the keynote address at a conference on ethics at their dad's alma mater - the University of Arizona. On the show, Percy went on to state the Schmeiser Principles of Food and Agriculture, which were the following:
Then this Saturday we went from Percy Schmeizer to Guns, Germs, and Steel with Jared Diamond. This is the 3-part documentary he produced for National Geographic. It answers a question posed to him by a native of Papua New Guinea. The question was: "Why you white men have so much cargo and we have so little?" Diamond explains that cargo means goods. After years of research and reflection, he gives his answer in one word: "Geography." Civilization spread horizontally from the Fertile Crescent. Because Eurasia was so wide, as opposed to the vertical Americas or Africa, crops and domesticated animals could easily adapt at the same latitude. This left people the leisure to develop superior weaponry - razor-sharp rapiers and guns. They also developed resistance to the diseases that their livestock introduced later to native populations.
Diamond glosses over the intentional introduction of smallpox through infected blankets but he does show the deception and trickery used in the conquest of the Incas, which was similar to the ambush of the Aztecs or the scorched earth tactics used against North American tribes. How did a handful of Pizarro's men - 169 to be exact - defeat the 10,000 soldiers of Atahualpa? Diamond attributes it to a strategic mistake by Atahualpa: he brought his men unarmed to the supposedly peaceful meeting. But the real reason he says the Incas didn't stand a chance was the guns, germs, and steel with which nature had graced the white man, who was the innocent benefactor of lucky geography.
But "nature's gift" wasn't the way the white settlers would have termed it. Their advantage wasn't geography, in their eyes, but God's confirmation that they were the favored race. James Loewen writes about the Massachusetts outbreak of smallpox in Lies My Teacher Told Me:
"But for the natives in these parts, God hath so pursued them, as for 300 miles space the greatest part of them are swept away by the small pox which still continues among them. So as God hath thereby cleared our title to this place, those who remain in these parts, being in all not fifty, have put themselves under our protect"
However, I would argue with Diamond that germs weren't the only thing that indigenous tribes hadn't built an immunity to. They also had no resistance to a religion that had no concept of honor. Again and again, Christian generals and their friars take the native chiefs completely by surprise with the same strategy - the bold-faced lie.
From the repeated success of this maneuver, it seems that it was unheard-of for a leader to behave so shamelessly, or should we say psychopathically, and still be respected by his followers. In the same way that business doesn't create psychopaths, but allows them to flourish, so this virginal territory that had never known deception was easy prey for a religion without a conscience.
Without this ideology, there would have still been psychopaths like Columbus, Cortez, and Pizarro, but they would have been seen as what they were - mercenaries and pirates. Without a religion of imperialism, we wouldn't be celebrating those who slaughtered and enslaved every civilization they encountered.
Let's take a break for some music. This is U2 with Mothers of the Disappeared. The lyrics are as follows:
That was U2 with Mothers of the Disappeared. We go now from Indian feather to Indian dot, as someone termed it, and from Peru to India and Brazil. Let's read my November 1st post entitled:
Today's DN headlines included an attack on Arundhati Roy's house by the Indian version of the Tea Party because of her position that Kashmir isn't part of India to begin with. This is like saying Puerto Rico doesn't belong to the US even though we beat it, well, square if not fair.
At the same time, Brazil elected Dilma Rousseff, their first female President. But that's not Dilma's real significance - she's also the first guerilla president, a former member of the armed resistance who was jailed for three years and tortured for 22 straight days. What's this world coming to when an insurgent can become President?
But in Yemen there may soon be US drone attacks and hunter-killer assassin teams who don't need the permission of the Yemen government. This is in retaliation for the "printer bombs" that originated in Yemen and were sent to synagogues in Chicago. The British government "believes they were due to detonate mid-air," and John Brennen, the White House counterterrorism advisor, agrees. Neither gives a reason for why Yemeni terrorists would want to blow up a Fed Ex cargo plane, nor why the mission failed. On Russian radio, I heard speculation that it was done to boost the Obama administration's popularity during the mid-term elections. If that were the case, it failed more miserably for Obama than for al-Qaeda.
Or did it? The tip-off for the printer, craftily buried in a box of books, scarves, and household goods, came from the US and United Arab Emirates. Using the finest of sleuthing techniques, the woman was traced and arrested through the phone number she gave when she posted the package! This exceptionally clever explosive can be detonated by a mobile phone. However, I didn't know that mobile phones could call into cargo planes. The same chemical was used by similarly inept Underwear Bomber, who flew without a passport, and the Times Square bomber, who conveniently left his wallet and house keys in the stolen car.
This 22-yr-old woman who posted a bomb and gave Fed Ex her real phone number has been released on bail after revealing that someone stole her identification. This is fortunate for her. According to Amnesty International, alleged terrorists have disappeared or have been detained for long periods without charge in Yemen's secret prisons. The US gave Yemen $155.3 million to "carry out the necessary operations" in 2010.
A Wired article by Spencer Ackerman states it this way:
The intercontinental mail-bomb plot this weekend didn't result in any fatalities. But if its real purpose was to draw the United States deeper into Yemen, where the plot was hatched, then it might be a different kind of success. An intense and more lethal CIA role in Yemen, without cooperation from the weak Yemeni government, might be imminent, indicating that another undeclared war is about to intensify.
President Saleh of Yemen is on-line to receive another $1.2 billion in military aid from the US. This may persuade him to open up some airports for launching drone attacks - which is the weapon of choice for wars of impunity. Is it ever moral to kill for a cause you wouldn't die for? And then, if there are floods in Yemen, as there were in Pakistan, they can divert the water from the airbase and let God do the military's dirty work. Maybe global warming is Smallpox 2.0.
In a final post on Connecting the DOTS this week, I asked:
On Tuesday's DN, Ralph Nader asked a darn good question. Amy grilled him about the danger of ending up with the greater of two evils if votes get diverted from the lesser one. His answer was
"What's your breaking point? How bad does the Democratic Party have to be, even though the Republican Party is worse, before you break away and stop being captured and taken for granted the way African Americans have been taken for granted by the Obama administration? That's the key question everyone has to ask themselves as a voter: what is your breaking point? If you don't have a breaking point, you don't have a moral compass."
It's interesting that he used the term "moral compass," because morality, as I understand it, has to do with how you treat others, not how others treat you. But what the US does to other people isn't even a talking point, much less a breaking point for the voting public. In this issue of World Beat, put out by the Institute for Policy Studies, John Feffer points out that foreign policy played almost no role in this election, despite the fact that the US is involved in two wars, military spending is off the charts, treaties and negotiations hang in the balance, and our last chance on climate change is coming up this month. If we have a breaking point, it's over jobs, healthcare, taxes, abortion, or gay rights. In other words, issues that affect us or people we know.
But foreign policy affects each one of us every day. It's why we can't make a living producing goods or food. It's why there's gang violence in the schools. It turns a nice comfy word like security into meaning a nasty military escalation. It backs us into a corner with only our screen world for escape.
By the time that we get into an election, though, the Democratic Party has us over a barrel. Actually, they have us in a barrel going over a cliff and grasping for twigs to hang onto. There are no good choices to be made. So how do we break with this current that sweeps us into the rapids every two years?
The problem, it seems to me, is that the "party-makers" are framing the debate with meaningless questions and then picking straws to see who'll take which side. Since the real questions won't come up, it's a given that there won't be any meaningful answers. Their "position statements" are a buzzword bingo, with no actual strategy - other than raising taxes, for the Democrats or for the Republicans, cutting costs
It's time, I think, to bring back the nonbinding referendum. It may sound innocuous, but it was threatening enough to instigate a coup against the Honduran President Mel Zelaya just before he went through with it. Why is it so dangerous to ask people what they think? Referendums, unlike elections, aren't about personalities, they're about issues. They're not the final laws with all the fine print after the politicians are through with them. You can actually understand them. And once that public opinion is known, it becomes a horse that any politician can ride - as long as he's willing to go where the horse leads.
The referendum process doesn't need to happen at the voting booth. City Councils could set it up as a computer survey, with a question of the month. Instead of yes or no checkboxes or unfinished arrows, ordinary people could enter into the debate. Rather than issues like panhandling ordinances, local communities could find their moral compass on questions like torture and drone attacks. Now that's what I call a breaking point.
You've been listening to Third Paradigm with Tereza Coraggio. Thanks to Errington C. Thompson of Local Edge Radio in Texas for refreshing my memory on the smallpox-as-land-title claim. He does a great blog at WhereIsTheOutrage.net. I also applaud his fundraising for Haiti, but I'd warn him about directing funds through the Red Cross. Thanks to Mike Scirocco for all things web. We go out with U2 again performing the John Lennon classic Instant Karma from Amnesty International's Save Darfur CD.
Thank you for listening.