Mauritius Embracing Diversity

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Mauritius, 2017

Survival Requirement: Embracing Diversity

Dr. Roxanne Meshar, M.Div., D.Min.

Thank you for your invitation and generous hospitality! Also I’d like to thank Mary’s Pence (maryspence.org) for their endorsement letter and ongoing support of my work. It is an honor for me to be here with all of you.

My professional background is posted here.

In order for participants to more easily view or translate my presentation (using a smart phone), the presentation slide text follows.

Creator Spirit

Help us respond to our call to be members of one family.

Guide us to constant peaceful concern for sisters and brothers throughout the world.

Make us mindful of the needs of those who endure the injustices of war, hunger, poverty,

that we may live in harmony and unity with others.

Renew our commitment to our global family.

Beyond Borders, Catholic Relief Services

 

There is no “objective” reporting or writing

  • Every article, book, report has a point of view – cultural, historical, linguistic, geographical or psychological
  • The question:  is the bias disclosed?

 

Whose story
and how we tell it

  • History of American First Nations
  • History of chattel slavery in North America
  • Who decides? Who benefits?

 

Learn how to identify events and systems

  • Creating a system of under privilege and over privilege in the U.S.
    • Representative government benefits elites
    • Pay for education with property taxes
  • Always ask, “Who benefits?”

 

Wealth transfer and poverty creation in our time

  • Inequality in pay creates generational poverty
  • Charity – who benefits?
  • Unregulated capitalism allows unethical businesses to monopolize industries, create laws for their own benefit

 

What to do?

  • Help build awareness and empathy “muscles”
  • Develop and enrich our own personhood through engagement with those who are different

 

Exercises can build diversity awareness and empathy

  • Identify our own social location
  • “Simon Says” or My View games
  • Games can teach values of sharing, cooperation, inclusion

 

Embracing diversity is not optional – it is required for our survival

  • Diversity creates cultural richness
  • Increases our curiosity about others
  • Builds awareness, empathy, resilience
  • Develops our personhood, humanity
  • Is a critical survival skill

 

Embracing diversity:

  • Informed by Christian Doctrine of Trinity
  • Political, subversive, dangerous
  • Yet essential for our survival and the survival of our planet

 

Workshop

  • Demonstration of fast, easy exercises for all ages
  • Helps to develop empathy and compassion “muscles” for life

Thank you. Merci.

The Workshop: Here you will see demonstrations of fun, quick and easy exercises that help build compassion and empathy (collected over the years and around the web) –

Simon Says uses the childhood game of the same name to show that not everyone begins life with the same advantages.

My View allows us to learn from points of view different from our own.

Stand Where You Stand – for now. Our opinions and ideas are always changing.

Describing our social location reminds us that our point of view is quite limited!

Popular games can also be a source of learning. Prophetopoly (by Jeff Dols, Monopoly in reverse), the game of Life and others can be played with the same rules, but the objectives are changed so that all are cared for. This helps build cooperation, compassion, empathy.

Endlessly Connected

prairie & smoothies 007These last few days of summer vacation before school begins allow for some relaxation and reflection. Recently the prairie in our development was mowed. While it was growing, we could see how butterflies, fireflies, hawks, chipmunks, rabbits, and birds of every color made the prairie their home. Until the prairie returns I’ll miss its color, scent, green coolness and soft textures. The prairie was an entire ecosystem – all interconnected and interdependent – the way our planet is interconnected, but in miniature.

We are a part of this interconnectedness and interdependence. Our health depends on the health of the planet and all the species who exist within its biosphere.

The lie of our culture is that we are somehow separate, competitive individuals. Ancient wisdom and modern science tell a very different story. Greed and violence happen when we are less than human. We are all interconnected and interdependent. Our natural inclination is to cooperate, to support, to care and to collaborate. This is what indigenous cultures have known for thousands of years. This is what the world’s major religions teach.

Because we are interconnected, those who suffer elsewhere on the planet are a part of us. The suffering of others hurts us in ways that we don’t yet understand – but nevertheless it hurts us – even if it is because we may become callous to its existence, our hearts hardened.

Our inability to care for ourselves, each other and the entire planet happens when we are less than who we are meant to be. This inability to care is the root cause of violence on every level – verbal, emotional, psychological, spiritual and physical.

Love and care begin within. Health begins within. We must learn to speak kindly to ourselves within our own minds. We must learn to fully respect our bodies and minds. Eat and drink only what brings health to every cell. Watch and participate in activities that inspire, delight and challenge.

We can endlessly shape and change our minds, bodies and relationships. One practice is to start each day by making just one choice that is healthier than before – either physically, emotionally, spiritually or mentally. After just two weeks a change can become a habit. Justice begins within.

Those made poor also offer us a chance to open our hearts and grow. They offer us an opportunity to change – to become engaged, to learn about how we create poverty. Those made poor offer us a way to become healthy by becoming more connected, more compassionate, more fully human.

 

 

 

Time to Tax Wall Street

Note: This post was originally published Oct. 24, 2012, but seemed timely to revisit now.

In my last post I asked why neither candidate ever proposes eliminating the capital gains tax subsidy (increasing the capital gains tax rate) as a way to decrease the deficit. Today I will remind readers of another way to reduce our deficit – that is by using a financial transaction tax. Why not tax Wall Street? After all Wall Street bankers didn’t hesitate to use predatory lending and dubious financial instruments to take the home equity savings of millions of Americans.

A financial transaction tax would tax those who can afford to have investments – namely the well off – and easily create funding for those who struggle – namely the working poor.

It is estimated that a paltry 50 cent tax on every investment transaction over $100 would result in additional tax revenue of $350 billion each year! That’s enough to cover our annual budget deficit and then some.

Not surprisingly, the EU has already realized that a financial transaction tax would be way to take back some of the money hijacked by the financial industry and currently ten countries are working toward instituting a transaction tax. Read more here and here.

The banking industry has been a draining trillions of assets from the American people for far too long in the form of bailouts and artificially suppressed overnight bank lending rates. Time to return some of these ill-gotten gains to the public purse.

But ask yourself, “Why is taxing Wall Street never discussed as an option?” “What happens when our government representatives are over privileged elites who consistently vote in their own interests rather than considering the common good?”

You may also like another topic not discussed by either candidate – Extreme Weather – and it’s impact on everyone, but especially on those made poor.

Eliminate Capital Gains Tax Subsidy

Note: This post was originally published Oct. 23, 2012, but seems timely to revisit now.

With so much talk about our annual budget deficit, national debt, income inequality, reducing benefits and raising income taxes by both candidates – I’m surprised neither party ever mentioned eliminating the capital gains tax subsidy by returning the capital gains tax to the income tax rate. It’s a logical option. Why should the profits made on investments be taxed SO MUCH LOWER than income earned through hard work? It’s a huge tax subsidy given to those who need it least and whose corporations use our government funded infrastructure the most – paid for through the courtesy of the rest of us.

Other options for raising tax revenue like adding sales taxes or a value added tax (V.A.T.) will always be regressive – that is – hurting those made poor who must spend nearly all of their earned income. Likewise raising earned income tax rates hurts those made poor rather than those who are over privileged (i.e. the rich) who don’t actually earn income, but receive money from profits on investments.

Those who have the luxury of living off their investments can most afford to pay more in taxes. Eliminating the capital gains tax subsidy by increasing capital gains tax rates is a logical way to increase revenue from the group most able to pay it.

I’m not the only one who thinks so – read more here and from a recent Washington Post article here.

But ask yourself, “Why is raising the capital gains tax rate never discussed as an option?” “What happens when our government representatives are over privileged elites who consistently vote in their own interests and in the interests of their biggest campaign financiers rather than considering the common good?”

Next up: Another way to reduce the deficit that presidential candidates never mention.

You may also like Luck or Privilege? and Myth of Objective Reporting.