It's my personal soapbox, a place for me to express thoughts and feelings, musings and rants, reflections and recollections; to have fun with words -- about things spiritual, environmental, social, political, economic, and, from time to time, personal. And of course about peace. Soapboxes are in public places (as London's legendary Hyde Park) on purpose, and so I invite conversations with you, for it is through civil discourse that we can gain some perspective on the seeming chaos of these changing times and learn together how to shape a positive future for ourselves, our communities, and the generations to come.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Presidential Politics 2012

This could be an interesting year, to say the least. I would be very surprised if it remains a two-party race. It seems there is enough discontent all across the political spectrum to warrant 3rd-party, 4th-party, and independent ventures. I myself am at the point of fantasizing about the emergence not of yet another nth party but of an alliance.

Thoughts on the Keystone Tar Sands Pipeline

The president is faced with making a decision on the Keystone Tar Sands Pipeline. Whether that is to be in two months by the current president or in 2013 by whatever president, let’s work to have that decision be one of denying the permit. Our strategy can't be one of just saying no, however. That strategy didn’t work for Nancy Reagan, and it wouldn’t work here, either. More effective will be building alliances in the private sector to develop 21st Century alternative opportunities for both industry and the unions that have longer term prospects than hanging on desperately to short-term, 20th Century jobs.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Art and Peace

Art has everything to do about peacebuilding as we shift to a culture of peace. We are on the threshold (actually already in the midst) of a major transformation in human consciousness and, consequently, our concepts and systems of how we organize ourselves as a society, everywhere on the planet, is in transition to keep up with that change in consciousness.

Occupy the 100%

Posing enemies does not work. Nor is it consistent with the new way of thinking and acting that I've understood to be the intent of Occupy. At least, that is what has excited me about Occupy -- it's an experiment in putting into practice some of the concepts of a culture of peace, a culture of caring, compassion, mutual respect and support, and, yes, love. That means all those things for 100%, not just the 99% against the 1%. We are all in this together, and we need everyone to be included.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Rebuild the Dream -- Of Symptoms and Disease

Rebuild the Dream is a movement to recapture the essence of America's progressive values. They offer a program of "10 critical steps to get our economy back on track." On the one hand, the 10 steps are very sensible proposals to bandage many of our social, economic, and poliltical ills. And I support them.

On the other hand, the 10 steps are just that, 10 unrelated policy prescriptions, each targeting a distinct ill. While we must apply such bandages to stop the patient's hemorrhaging, unless we also invest time, energy, and resources in curing the disease at the root of all of them, new symptoms will continue to pop up hemorrhaging, and we will be forever seeking new bandages to apply.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

"World peace could be closer than we think." Could it really??

Last week, some friends participated in an email exchange prompted by an article in the current issue of Foreign Policy in which American University Professor Joshua Goldstein provides data to support his title,“World peace could be closer than you think.” But is it really?

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Heads in the Sand Get Drowned

Two items in the New York Times yesterday and today are further examples of the increasingly egregious greed-based mindset that is stretching the income-distribution gap in this country to the breaking point.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Peace Policy: A Matter of the Heart

Last week, on August 7, on the occasion of the 66th birthday of the age of nuclear warfare, Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio spoke in Bangor, Washington, at the Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action. His speech, as always, was a mixture of inspiration and policy prescription. And it reminded me of why I have been enthralled with the man and what he stands and fights for ever since I first heard him speak, in November 2002 in Palo Alto, California.

Kucinich’s citing of the  human heart as the place where war and death occur and where peace and life begin is beautifully poetic – and absolutely true. After that beginning and before returning briefly to the heart at the end, he recites with passion a laundry list of policy actions governments (mostly the U.S.) can and should take to eliminate the nuclear threat and generally move us forward toward a world of justice and human rights, a world of peace. Also absolutely true. BUT...

Friday, August 12, 2011

Resilience and Adaptivity: Local Communities Globally Networked

I envision a world of local, resilient, adaptive communities who are networked in a web of interdependence with other local, resilient, adaptive communities all around the world. That global linking provides for macro-level resilience and adaptivity to complement the micro-/local-level resilience and adaptivity.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Violence in America: A Sign of Hope from behind Bars

Clearly, the  United States of America is one of the most violent societies in the world. And much of it is of our own doing, a consequence of our obsession with security at home and abroad. We seek security through violent means (and incarceration is definitely a brutal form of violence), and it is virtually a truism that violence only breeds more violence.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Driving My Civic Hybrid and Economic Rationality

I'm leaving  for the airport in an hour for a flight to Vermont to attend the National Peace Academy's week-long Peacebuilding Peacelearning Intensive. I'm not likely to get a chance to write any The Green Pen posts before getting back, so here's a blast from the past to share. From July 2005, to be exact. Today's comments are [bracketed in italics].


There was an article in the paper the other day [July 2005] about Honda upgrading its hybrid Civic model in order to give the Toyota Prius a run for its mpg money. I’ve been driving a Honda Civic hybrid for almost two years, now, and I love it. [And I'm still driving it -- 8 years and 100K miles in all and counting.]

Sunday, July 10, 2011

For Right Relationship with Food: Food Day, October 24

Peace, according to the Earth Charter, is the "wholeness created by right relationships with oneself, other persons, other cultures, other life, Earth, and the larger whole of which all are a part." Our relationship with the food we eat is, clearly, an essential component of that peace. The ways in which we choose, prepare, and consume what we put in our bellies, and how we dispose of any waste produced in the process, are a reflection of our beliefs and attitudes toward, and hence relationships with:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Peacebuilding and Functional Medicine: An Isomorphism

I was in Los Angeles this past weekend for the 50th reunion (!) of my North Hollywood High School class of 1961. Classmate Jack recounted how, about 10 years ago, he phased out of his general surgery practice and into the field of functional medicine. It was as if he’d worked himself out of a job in surgery as he’d begun treating his surgical patients à la functional medicine and found that in so many cases they no longer needed surgery.

It dawned on me that functional medicine is isomorphically related, in a general systems theory way, to peacebuilding. Each focuses on treating its “patient” (in the one case an individual human being; in the other a human society) as a holistic system rather than on treating distinct symptoms; that is, treating the underlying causes of dysfunctions as imbalances that “arise as environmental inputs…are processed by one’s body, mind, and spirit through a unique set of genetic predispositions, attitudes, and beliefs.”

Sunday, June 5, 2011

As American as Pie

It's going viral, and The Green Pen joyfully joins the contagion. I cried "the day the music died" (how many of you are old enough to remember that?), and I cried watching The  Grand  Rapids LipDub.

A heartland American  community, Grand Rapids, Michigan, comes together in harmony and joy to remind us what community means and what America can be and, deep down, is. That's the America that, according to the Cherokee legend, is to be nourished and flourished.

Deep gratitude to Mike Marthaller for passing this virus on to me.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Economy: Gloomy or Hopeful?

Well, it's another Saturday morning in the Bay Area, and a cool, rainy one at that -- "Junuary" weather, it's being called. Let's see what's happening in the world today. Hmmm.

Oh, here are two items of note in the San  Jose  Mercury News, both related to the dismal economic situation and outlook. Very in tune with the weather. One article, appearing above the fold on page one of Section A, is by Patrick May of the Mercury News and headlined Volunteering in a Bad Economy: Down on their luck, but still giving back. The other, in the same relative location in the Business section, is by Don Lee of the Los Angeles Times and screams Sputtering Economy: Job growth disappoints.

One is human interest and hopeful; the other statistical and gloomy.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Revolutionary Evolution toward a Culture of Peace:Inside-Out, Bottom-Up, Topsy-Turvy

Earthquakes, tornadoes, tsunamis, floods, hurricanes, uprisings of the oppressed, nuclear meltdowns, global economic and financial collapse. Of historic proportions, all around the world, and all virtually in the blink of an eye.

And what of peace? In this revolutionarily evolutionary, topsy-turvy world turning upside down, what can peace mean? What is the role of peacebuilding in such a world? How do we go about it and make it practical in our daily lives, no matter who we are or what we do?

Friday, May 20, 2011

On the Move with Climate Change

In 2008, a National Intelligence Assessment judged that “global climate change will have wide-ranging implications for US national security interests over the next 20 years.” Later, in 2009, National security analysts and policy makers further concluded that “changing global climate will pose profound strategic challenges to the United States in coming decades, raising the prospect of military intervention to deal with the effects of violent storms, drought, mass migration and pandemics.”

That about says it. Whether you believe climate change is human caused or just another swing in a long history of natural cycles, either way this is the situation. If you do not believe climate change is happening at all, then you can just skip this post and put  your head back in the sand.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Service, Service, Service: Sargent Shriver and Peace Corps

I entered Peace Corps service in late February 1966 (for posting in Nigeria), less than a month after graduating from UCLA. Three days later, the Peace Corps’ founder and first director and JFK brother-in-law Sargent Shriver left the Peace Corps. Sarge Shriver died four months ago at age 95.

Friday, May 13, 2011

What's Next for Dennis Kucinich?

In October 2002, 13 months after 9/11, Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio spoke at the Foundation for Global Community in Palo Alto, California. I couldn't believe a national political figure could so eloquently transcend the day-to-day political issues and battles and articulate a profound vision of the spirit and power we have within us as Americans and as humans to make this a better world for all.

Five months later, after he had announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for president in 2004, I eagerly helped organize the Silicon Valley for Kucinich campaign. That experience led me to the Department of Peace Campaign in the U.S. and around the world, and now to the National Peace Academy.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Ends, Means, Torture, and American Ideals

The ends do not justify the means. 
Ignoble means only demean otherwise noble ends --
and those who follow them.

Period. No ifs, ands, or buts. No matter what proponents of torture say. No matter if torture produces useful "intelligence," which even  experts say it doesn't, not even in the Hunt for Bin Laden.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Born in Boyle Heights

I suppose this post falls in the category of a personal recollection, a whimsical musing the accuracy of which, having been recorded through a child's eyes and then filtered through the mists of memory, I cannot vouch for.

When I was born we lived in a court on San Benito Street in East Los Angeles, an area known as Boyle Heights. I remember nothing of that time on San Benito Street but do have memories – some faint, some  vivid – of returning several times over the next four or five years for visits with Aunt Sarah and Uncle Charlie, who lived in the next court over.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Fundamental Insights into What Makes America America

I recently read the book, The Sword of the Lord: The Roots of Fundamentalism in an American Family by Andrew Himes. Whatever your personal views are on American Christian Fundamentalism, Andrew Himes' The Sword of the Lord is a must read on many levels for anyone interested in understanding a little more -- a whole lot more -- about U.S. history, particularly about one of the defining elements in how we came to be who and what we are today as a nation.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Osama bin Laden is Dead: Thoughts and Feelings on Justice and Victory

Last night came the big news of Osama bin Laden's death in a U.S. commando raid on a luxury, fortified compound in Abottabad, Pakistan, not far from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad. The punditry has already begun and will certainly continue to flood the airwaves and netwaves in the hours and days and weeks to come. The meaning and implications of this momentous event will be sliced and diced from myriad perspectives -- political, military, historical, religious, economic, legal, and so forth. Here are my own two cents: feelings and thoughts on justice and victory.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

When Positive News Isn't by Michael Nagler

Michael Nagler is president of the Metta Center for Nonviolence, a long-time scholar and teacher of Gandhian nonviolence, and founder of the Peace and Conflict Studies Program at UC Berkeley. His recent Metta Center blog post, "When Positive News Isn't," raises several issues regarding the cultural trend of violence and demeaning of Nature that we have been on for the past few centuries. In response, I posted the following thoughts on the Metta Center blog page.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

We Call Ourselves "Sapiens," Wise -- Are We?

I wrote this 12 years ago and am amazed at how current and relevant it still is...

We call ourselves Homo sapiens sapiens.  But, how wise are we, really?

I began this train of thought one day in mid April 1999.  I had come home from work and was going through the mail when I came across a newsletter reporting that three participants at the 1998 State of the World Forum had met a violent death on March 5. I remembered having read the news reports soon after it happened: three Americans kidnapped and murdered in the jungles of Venezuela, near the Colombian border.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Growing Up

The cauldron of oil called the Middle East is aflame with the passions of the oppressed and dispossessed, of fear and intolerance, of hopelessness and hope. Every day we listen to and watch the latest dispatches, ticked off like reports of the weather along the path of an advancing firestorm: Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen, Gaza, Israel, Jordan, Syria – and spreading eastward to add fuel to and join the ongoing fires in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan. People, the grassroots, are waking up and letting it be known that they are “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.”

Friday, April 22, 2011

What Is Peace?

Let’s start The Green Pen off with talking about peace, particularly since I’ll be writing a lot about it.

What is “peace,” anyway? The word means so many things to so many people – and not always positive. It’s something like the word “God” in that you almost can’t have a conversation about it without first getting  out on the table what it is you are talking about.