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.

 

 

 

My Health Insurance Makes Me Sick

HellmannsOliveOilMayoWow. Unbelievable. Today I received coupons in the mail from my health insurance provider –  Blue Cross Blue Shield. The coupons were for fat-loaded, sweetener-filled junk foods that should not be part of anyone’s healthy diet: Sweet Freedom Ice Cream Bars, Fudge Lites and Ice Cream, Weight Watchers Ice Cream Sandwiches,  C&H and Domino Sugar Blends and Hellmann’s Mayonnaise Dressing with Olive Oil. Really?? I should be loading up my diet with sugary snacks, processed food and olive-oil-fat-filled mayo?

Why isn’t Blue Cross promoting healthy hummus instead of mayo? Or frozen vegie-fruit smoothies instead of ice cream junk food?

Because Blue Cross is in bed with big food corporations and the $$$ that mailing coupons for these corporations produces. Further, as a healthy person I don’t generate much income for health insurance companies (healthy people have lower premiums), health care services, or the drug industry. To increase their profit margins it is much better for me to be chronically sick, taking diabetes, blood pressure or cholesterol medications – ideally for the rest of my life.

How best to do this? Promote bad health, of course! Junk food coupons – here we come! Worse, I’m paying the cost for this unethical marketing with my insurance premiums.

Don’t assume your health insurance or health care providers are even remotely interested in maintaining your good health. Always ask, “Who benefits?”

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Voter ID = Racism

We call it “voter ID” – but we should really call it by its true name – voter racism.

What does systemic racism look like? Continue reading to find out.

Overt legal efforts to limit voting are underway by the Republican party along with a denial of the higher than whites black turnout voting rate –

Summary: The Republican Party is thus more officially racist than it was in Nixon’s day. Back then, at least they had Jackie Robinson and Sammy Davis Jr. And at least, back then, the Republican Party did these things in code, and not via the law. It was not so brazen as to think it could on the one hand be waging efforts in half the states to keep black people from voting and on the other be improving its “outreach.” The black vote will dip a bit when Obama retires, but as long as Republicans insist on these tactics, they will be doing more than they know to keep turnout high and keep hope alive.

Reality: state tracking demonstrates that voter fraud is so small as to be almost statistically invisible. However, requiring photo ID eliminates the possibility to vote for most of the weakest among us; the working poor, indigent, homeless. Not surprisingly these groups are primarily people of color – those made poor by racist policies just like this.

Click all the voter suppression efforts currently on offer across the country to see just how bigots work to incorporate racism systemically into our legal system.

You can’t be neutral. Either those of us who are over privileged work to make voting a possibility for everyone or, by our inaction, we actively demonstrate that we believe in oligarchy – government by elites, the over privileged few.

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Apple Dodges U.S. Taxes

AppleLogoWhy are we short of revenue to balance the national budget? Why can’t we collect enough in revenue to improve our schools, public transportation or health insurance? Because corporations like Apple dodge paying their fair share of U.S. income taxes (estimated in the Financial Times at $9 billion just for Apple alone). You and I pay our fair share – and it’s collected directly from our paychecks, right up front. Why not for Apple? Apple benefits from our national infrastructure including things like education, transportation, security, communications networks and more.

Instead Apple issues bonds thereby keeping billions off-shore where it won’t be taxed. In this way Apple externalizes the real cost of running their business onto individual taxpayers and communities – keeping bigger bonuses for Apple executives and bigger dividends for stock holders.

Tax evasion corporate-style.

All too often we worry about welfare programs for those made poor (of which the entire  program for low income individuals is relatively small) but prefer to remain oblivious to undeserved MASSIVE CORPORATE WELFARE worth hundreds of billions of dollars.

As consumers, we are morally culpable if we choose to do nothing. One can not be neutral. Either we demand that Apple, and all corporations, pay their fair share of taxes for the privilege of using our infrastructure and resources or, in doing nothing, we actively demonstrate our belief that corporate shareholders and executives deserve to take steal wealth from us, our families and communities.

Read the entire Associated Press article here.

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Where Do Our Clothes Come From?

Photo BenefitsOfYogaNow.com

Photo BenefitsOfYogaNow.com

Many readers come to this blog by googling this very question. Well if you’ve been watching the news recently you’ve seen exactly where most of our clothes come from; they come from unsafe sweatshops just like the clothing factory that collapsed in Bangladesh killing murdering hundreds of workers.

Why murdering? Because factory owners and the Western retailers (barely mentioned in the article) knew the factory was unsafe – yet the decision was made that higher corporate profits for American retailers are more important than other people’s lives.

This is what American terrorism looks like. Everyday.

As consumers, we are morally culpable if we choose to do nothing. One can not be neutral. Either we actively work to demand fair wages and safe working conditions for the products we buy or, in doing nothing, we actively demonstrate our belief that human life has no value.

Where do your clothes come from?

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