Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The California Court's Unconstitutional Proposition 8 Ruling

When basic human rights are allocated to one group, and withheld from another, human rights are being violated. It's unconscionable that human rights violations are STILL, not only being committed, but legally enabled by our courts. This is a clear violation of our Constitution, fueled by intolerance, prejudice and religious beliefs.

Any religion can determine what groups of human beings they'll marry, and that is their perogative. They can also state that marriage between a man and a woman is natural. We all have freedom of speech, however, this doesn't make what they say either factual or correct. The State, on the other hand, is secular and is charged with ensuring that all human beings receive equal rights and protection under the law. When the test of the rule of law determines inequality, it is the obligation of the court to rule on the side of equality.

This is neither a religious question nor a question of tradition. Tradition and religious beliefs, justified by scriptural interpretation, were used to pronounce the "fact" that the "negro" wasn't human and could be owned. If neither belief system had been challenged, segregation would still be legal and interracial marriage would still be against the law. It would still be illegal for women and African-Americans to vote and own property, for women to actually control their own bodies, and to pay a woman less than a man for doing the same job. These and many other human rights issues would still be alive, well, and legally "justified" in this country.

The moment someone believes that human rights can be bestowed upon one group of people at the exclusion of another, there's already an inequality. Human rights cannot be bestowed, they simply exist, should be respected and, if not, enforced by the rule of law. Human rights belong to all humans!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Ending the War Against Human Rights

Let us all, especially global leaders, focus on stopping the "war" against human rights, as evidenced by rampant domestic violence, rape, trafficking, abuse, and forced low economic, educational, political, and social status. Around the world, in many cultures, societies and religions, people, especially women and girls, are relegated to positions of low value and status, shown little to no respect, are treated as less than human, and regarded and traded as property.

World Health Organization statistics are: 1 in 3 women and girls worldwide are raped, abused, sexually abused,tortured, or raped as a tool of war. I don't know what the statistics are for men and boys, because they suffer from this as well. I personally know many women and a few men, who were raped and/or sexually abused. The prevalence, acceptance and sometime encouragement of this behavior by people in any society, culture or religion is unconscionable. Rape is all about power over another human being. When you have patriarchal societies, cultures and religions, in which one group has power and control over another, really, what do you expect will happen? Until we change the paradigm to one of true equality and shared power, and until human rights are the priority in action, not just in lip-service or the rule of law, this will sadly continue. I, personally, call on all people, especially men, to stand up, speak up and lead by example to change this paradigm. Let us value all human beings and elevate them to a position of equality, respect, and freedom. When a patriarchal society uses its power to control over one-half the population of this planet, you lose that population's potential to more positively impact the planet and our future. I believe that, when all people are truly equal, many other problems found in this world will also be solved.

An organization I support is Women for Women International. This is a wonderful organization that seeks to end violence against women by teaching men to respect and value women and seeks to empower women by teaching them and helping them start a business. Their emphasis is to train women on their rights, teach them the importance of literacy, and give women the education and small business loans to start their own businesses. For more on Women for Women International, please use this link...

Here's the YouTube site for videos:
I hope you watch "I Am a New Definition of a Businesswoman," which is narrated by Meryl Streep, and "Women for Women's Men's Leadership Training Program."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Top Ten Reasons to Believe in Tomorrow Night...

This is a photograph of a passion flower in my backyard. I'm including it with this post as it...

opens itself to the light of life

lives for a short time (as we do compared to the age of the universe)

and it's fragrance leaves a distinctive note, a trace of its passion for life just as we leave the trace of our own unique life's passion and path in the memories of others.

Here are my top 10 reasons to believe in tomorrow night. When you're done reading mine, please leave a comment with yours.

10. The strength and tenacity of an old-growth forest
9. Sunrises
8. Sunsets
7. Twilight, a full moon and stars above a calm sea, while sitting on the beach, at peace, with someone you love
6. The ability to learn
5. The ability to change
4. Friends
3. Family and pets
2. The laughter of a child, inspiring hope for a future

and most importantly...

1. The beauty, joy and wonder of life

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Domestic Violence and Abuse - Did Rihanna "Ask for it?"

I am appalled by the number of people, especially young women, who think that Rihanna somehow deserved what she got. Nobody ever "asks for it!" Chris Brown chose to beat Rihanna to a bloody pulp. He absolutely is an abuser. Rihanna, on the other hand, has the enabling “I love him and maybe he’ll change” syndrome. Face it - he will not change. He chose to do what he did and he is absolutely and always responsible for his actions. Don’t make excuses for him.

On the other hand, abusers are pros at making excuses for themselves. Poor me! I was poor! I was abused! I was mistreated! Puhlease - a bunch of immature whiners! An abuser who blames his childhood and/or his victims would be like Bernie Madoff blaming his Ponzi scheme on childhood poverty and/or his victims who trusted him with their money.

Many people have had problems, but most people also don't use them as an excuse to hurt other people. Abusers, on the other hand, use excuses as their justification for hurting others. Blaming others for their actions is also a strategy commonly employed by murderers and other criminals found in our prisons.

People are responsible for the abuse they rain down upon others, no matter how bad their childhood. Everyone, children over 7 (when most courts agree they understand right from wrong) and adults, male and female, is responsible for their own actions. The more we say, poor man or poor boy, the more we enable abusers. No one can make anyone abuse them; abuse is a choice! Abusers must be forced to take responsibility and be held accountable for their own actions, and others should stop enabling their behavior, or we'll never see an end to the cycle of abuse.

Abuse should also not be a predominantly female conversation. This is so important because many children come from single-parent homes in which the mother is the sole support. There is often little to no contact with a father figure, so positive male role models are desperately needed. It would be wonderful to see non-abusive men get more involved in the conversation and to also stand up to men who abuse. I believe men who set a good example should be recognized and asked to give talks to groups of young people on the positive expectations of behavior and problem-solving in a relationship.

Let us all please work together to stop the cycle of abuse and violence!

Let Them Eat Cake?

Well, 100 years before Marie Antoinette, a princess in the French aristocracy said, "qu'ils mangent de la brioche." This has been incorrectly translated as, "let them eat cake." "Let them eat brioche" was callously uttered by an aristocrat when there was not even enough plain bread to feed the poor people, never mind the delicious, butter-rich brioche. One way or another, this kind of callous disregard by the idle rich towards the working poor of those times led to the French Revolution. In fact, Marie Antoinette was dubbed "Madame Déficit" for her active role in overspending the people's tax money. Therefore, I believe it completely appropriate to dub George Dubya "Monsieur le President Déficit" for taking a surplus and overspending the people's money to create the huge deficit that President Obama and the people of the United States have inherited.

George Bush, et al are responsible for the mortgage and financial meltdown crisis, recession and layoffs we now face. The road to our current recession and deficit is long. Phil Gramm began removal of the regulatory protections put in place after the last Depression. Then Enron officials both laughingly and greedily began the recent power surge in unregulated profit dollars, followed closely by other power companies, Big Oil, and the mortgage and financial industry.

When government and industry conspire to grasp more and more of the people's money, the people will throw the "cake" back into their faces. The American Revolution began with the Boston Tea Party because colonists were being taxed without any representation. When government and corporations conspire against the people, they also seem to think the people don't know or notice they're not being represented.

Whenever unfettered greed and abuse of power create a huge gap in income between the rich and the poor, accompanied by the disappearance of the middle class, there is often a revolution. The US government was afraid of a revolution during the first Depression. I’m surprised it’s not worried now. As a teacher, it never ceases to amaze me that people never seem to learn from history, but keep repeating the mistakes of the past. I am noticing many troubling signs, such as tea parties, comments all over the internet, and hearing talk on the street. Oh, I also noticed that the traditionally served little tea cakes were conspicuously absent from the many and very recently held tea parties.

I absolutely do not want to see a similar, violent history lesson repeated in this country. Honestly, I believe people should resort to non-violent means to effect social and political change. I truly hope the current government rapidly takes the proper steps to close the current income gap, and that President Obama and his administration also address the many other horrors of the Bush/Cheney “Reign of Terror” on the common person.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Dark Side of The Patriot Act

The USA Patriot Act is an acronym for the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 (Public Law Pub.L. 107-56). I believe the USA Patriot Act is both unAmerican and unpatriotic, as it has removed the basic human rights for which our founding fathers, and every generation since, have fought and died.

Benjamin Franklin once said, "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." (Benjamin Franklin, Pennsylvania Assembly: Reply to the Governor, November 11, 1755.—The Papers of Benjamin Franklin, ed. Leonard W. Labaree, vol. 6, p. 242 (1963).) The following quotation, a paraphrased and more frequently quoted version of Franklin's quote, is inscribed on a plaque in the stairwell of the Statue of Liberty: “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

The United States Constitution and Bill of Rights, along with Lady Liberty, are respectively, the rule of law and symbol of the United States of America. How dare President Bush and members of Congress, who all swore an oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution, so quickly, easily and readily gut the fundamental protection of our rights in our Constitution. Honestly, all who voted for and signed the Patriot Act most certainly did not represent me when they did this, nor did they protect and defend our Constitution.

We've already seen what the lack of oversight and regulation have done to our country's mortgage and financial industries. Ask the millions of unemployed, those whose homes have been foreclosed or whose home values have significantly dropped, and those whose retirement accounts have evaporated down to next to nothing whether or not the Bush Administration's reduced and/or altogether removed oversight policies and regulations have protected them, while the rich and powerful made trillions of dollars.

The USA Patriot Act is the type of ultimate, purposeful removal of oversight and protective regulations for citizens' rights that governments use to get rid of those who oppose them. How easy this can also be for them now, when the media, who are the Fourth Estate, the watchdog over the government, will no longer be granted access to any information about those who are being investigated. The United States of America is not supposed to create the types of laws that can be found in a dictatorship, in which police powers have been augmented, and with which people can be "disappeared," held without charge, representation, or due process. So much for the rights of the 'tired, the poor, and the huddled masses yearning to breathe free' who struggled to make it to this country of hope, freedom and opportunity.

Many people are concerned this country is treading on very dangerous ground that may cause some political leaders to slip and fall down the slippery slope of greed and dictatorship. If that doesn't happen, the Uniting and Strengthening America Patriot Act, may very well still be the downfall of our country by creating a rift between citizens who either support or oppose this Act, and by weakening its moral foundation. So now we will wait and see how the results of the current lack of oversight and regulation in our fundamental rules of law will affect American citizens. While we wait, I am one citizen who is on the record to demand that the President and Congress rescind the USA Patriot Act, reinstate our Constitutional rights, and create a new Constitutional amendment that firmly prohibits the removal of our citizens' fundamental rights by anyone in power!