Sharing countercultural history. Investigating ideas on how to co-create sustainable community outside the box. Establishing said online resources content in one place. Thereby, mirroring the long process of what it takes to raise social justice, political and cultural consciousness collectively. Your mission, should you decide to join us, is to click on the yellow daisy on the left! All the best to you, in a world-wide affiliation!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Embrace Your Age, and Conquer the World

PREOCCUPATIONS Embrace Your Age, and Conquer the World By PEGGY KLAUS Published: September 14, 2013 IN March, I celebrated my 60th birthday, which brought with it the expected mix of disbelief and angst. I got over the worst of it, thanks to three days of festivities and reassurance from kind friends. But soon I began to notice that I was avoiding mentioning my age around clients and colleagues. Johanna Goodman In trying to keep that information close to the vest, I was far from alone. Sometime between 50 and 60, I’ve found, people tend to stop publicizing their age. This is hardly a new phenomenon — my Aunt Ruth cut five years off her age by 40, a fact uncovered only at her funeral. The difference now is that it’s becoming a losing battle to hide this vital statistic. Thanks a lot, Google. So I want to propose that we over-50s start to own — even embrace — how old we are. With nearly 80 million baby boomers alive today, we have the numbers to tackle ageism. It’s the perfect time for a major cultural attitude adjustment. Certainly, there are legitimate reasons for boomers to be cagey about their age. In social situations, we fear that people will treat us differently. And in the workplace, age discrimination is very much alive. Friends of mine who were Emmy Award-winning producers and writers stopped getting jobs when they hit their late 40s and 50s; studio executives thought they couldn’t possibly relate to younger audiences. A 72-year-old friend with a new preschool teaching position could sense skepticism from fellow teachers about her ability to work with 3- and 4-year-olds. Could this woman sit cross-legged on the rug? Could she get up without calling the paramedics? It turns out that even we older people discriminate against one another. I recently talked to a hiring manager in her 60s who acknowledged that she was reluctant to hire a 64-year-old candidate out of concern that he wouldn’t stay for more than a year or two before retiring. But in fact, many baby boomers want to keep working past the traditional retirement age. They like the stimulation and the challenge. Many need to work. When there are mortgages, college tuition and elderly parents to deal with, retirement is not an option. Also contrary to popular lore that innovative ideas spring only from fresh, young minds in dorm rooms, a Northwestern University study found that people who are 55 and even 65 have more innovation potential than 25-year-olds. In a Preoccupations column this past spring, Tom Agan, an innovation and brand expert, wrote, “If an organization wants innovation to flourish, the conversation needs to change from severance packages to retention bonuses.” He believes that the innovation capacity of experienced older workers more than offsets the higher salary and retirement costs associated with employing them. There are all kinds of perceptions about older workers — some good, some bad. Based on research by the Adecco staffing company, hiring managers see us as reliable, professional and possessing a stellar work ethic. On the flip side, we are thought to be somewhat resistant to technology and to taking orders from managers half our age. Unfortunately, in the broader culture, the negative perceptions outnumber the positives. And we don’t help the situation by accepting them. A good first step toward a turnaround is to examine our own stereotypes and fess up to our fears. Then we need to change our attitude. With aging, as with most things in life, attitude counts for a lot. Grandma was right: you’re only as old as you feel. So let’s feel good about being 50, 60, 70 and beyond. Let’s even brag about it. I’VE spent untold hours helping business professionals brag about themselves — the good way, of course — for the job interview, the sales pitch, the elevator speech, you name it. But the group that needs to do a much better job at this is the 55-and-over crowd. In and out of the workplace, we need to share our stories with pride. We have much experience and wisdom under our belts, which makes for a distinct perspective and, ultimately, a richer culture. At this age, like any other, the key to happiness is to fully embrace who we are — to prize what we’ve learned and to appreciate how far we’ve come. Because many of us will be around into our late 80s and 90s, and maybe longer, we’ll have lots of time to practice. Peggy Klaus advises executives and organizations on leadership and communication. A version of this article appears in print on September 15, 2013, on page BU9 of the New York edition with the headline: Embrace Your Age, And Conquer The World.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

On Sunday Night, Aminata Touré was named Prime Minister of Senegal

On Sunday night, Aminata Touré was named Prime Minister of Senegal. True to Touré’s style, she announced the appointment herself. A new Prime Minister forms a new cabinet. It was thought that Touré would have the cabinet by the end of the week. She had it by Monday evening. That’s how Mimi Touré, as she is called, works. Touré is called the Iron Lady. Every woman who rises to a certain level of government becomes an Iron Lady in the press. The men are, well, just guys. Whichever mineral flows through the veins of Aminata Touré, she has spent all of her adult life working as a human rights and women’s rights activist, who has worked in Senegal and around the world on women’s issues and, more generally, at the intersection of social and economic justice struggles. Until Sunday’s appointment, Touré was Senegal’s Minister of Justice. As Minister, Touré became well known, and largely popular, for far-reaching anti-corruption campaigns that reached deep, far, wide and high into the previous government’s ranks. She brought Karim Wade, son of the previous President, to trial and then to prison. She oversaw the arrest of Chad’s former President Hissène Habré and made sure the subsequent trial wouldn’t wait for decades to occur. From her early days, from her adolescence, to the present, Touré has been an activist, a militante, and a footballeuse who played for the Dakar Gazelles. At university, Touré worked with the Communist Workers’ League. Since then, her militancy has turned to family planning, both in Senegal, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, and around the world, working most recently with the United Nations Population Fund. At the UNFPA, Touré was Chief of the Gender, Human Rights and Culture Branch. There, she pushed and pulled to get all sorts of people, agencies, governments to begin to think and act more seriously about “gender mainstreaming”. Touré understood that, from the State perspective as well as from an analytical point of view, women’s reproductive rights are part of the governmental budget process, and so the two have to be synthesized. She has argued that women’s empowerment and gender equality are key to any kind of health program. She has argued that access to health is a human right, and that that human right is first and foremost a women’s right. Repeatedly, she has shown the world that, if not another world, then a better world is possible … now. And she has worked to make the now happen … now. And she has often succeeded. In her new cabinet, Touré appointed Sidiki Kaba as the new Minister of Justice. Kaba is the former head of the International Federation of Human Rights. His appointment has already come under attack because of his support for decriminalization of homosexuality. So, he’s got something going in his favor. While Senegalese women’s groups have hailed the appointment of Aminata Touré to Prime Minister, they also note with some dismay the mathematics of her Cabinet: 4 women, 28 men. It’s an important and newsworthy moment for Senegal and beyond, unless of course you rely on the Anglophone press. There, in the land of all the news that fits to print, nothing happened in Senegal. But something is happening. A feminist, women’s rights, reproductive rights, human rights activist with a history of accomplishments has become Prime Minister of Senegal: Aminata Touré. Bio Latest Posts Dan Moshenberg Dan Moshenberg is an organizer educator who has worked with various social movements in the United States, South Africa, and elsewhere. Director of the Women's Studies Program at the George Washington University, he also blogs at and, most recently, co-edited/co-created Searching for South Africa: The New Calculus of Dignity (Unisa Press, 2011).

Sunday, July 14, 2013

If NRA Leaders Were Black: Turning Gun Arguments on Their Head

by Jaime Franchi on JULY 5, 2013

Remember the John Grisham novel “A Time to Kill,” when the defense attorney pleads the case of a black man who is on trial for killing two white men in rural Mississippi in front of an all white jury? He takes the courtroom through an exercise where he asks everyone to close their eyes and imagine the trauma and plight of the defendant’s daughter, who had suffered unconscionable rape and torture at the hands of the two dead men. The climax of the scene, and theme of the novel, was when the attorney asked of the courtroom, “Now imagine that girl was white.” The defendant was acquitted, the good guys won, and racial equality thereafter reigned in the South. (This was a work of fiction.) I’d like to take you through a similar exercise. There’s a group of well-funded, professionally organized men who have interpreted our Constitution in such a convoluted way as to demand that it is their God-given right to own high-caliber assault weapons. They argue that a cross-referenced document of who owns what and how many of these weapons is an infringement of that right. They are arguing against background checks at gun shows and over the Internet to prevent criminals and the mentally ill with histories of violence from obtaining firearms. The thought behind this is more nuanced than a simple “Mind Your Own Business” argument: it simply means that the fear that it would make it easier for the government to collect these weapons is stronger than the fear of the general public, including children, that the unregulated masses within this group have unrestricted access to these weapons. Even though there have been an increasing number of mass public shootings and copy-cat mass murders and there have been no gun confiscations of legally held guns. The leader of this group has proposed an even wider berth of gun ownership, even within the confines of our children’s schools. That this would make enormous profits for this group and the gun manufacturers who support it, is not the point. The point is their right. I want you to do something for me. Close your eyes. Picture this group of gun-wielding men spewing pieces of the Constitution from well-memorized pamphlets handed out at meetings. Picture the signs that they display that say, “We don’t call 9-1-1. We shoot.” Now imagine that that leader and his ilk are black. Let’s question whether Republicans would cling to their Second Amendment rights to bear assault weapons if Wayne LaPierre was black. Imagine, if you will, instead of an oldish looking white guy, whose looks don’t incite fear until he opens his mouth and the crazy pours out, a black man. Samuel L. Jackson comes to mind. He’s spewing about his right to form a militia as given to him by God and the Constitution. Do you feel differently? Tell me the truth – I won’t tell anyone. To white America, in some parts of the country more than others, the idea of a well-organized black self “regulated militia” inspires terror. It sounds like the Black Panthers. As it should. The answer to that is not that black Americans are scarier than whites, but that once the members of a group puts their (financial) goal ahead of the human lives of our citizenry, they have become a threat. And they are scary. Yet we have become so complacent as a people to believe that white men are less threatening, despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of the mass murders that have terrorized the nation have been at their hands. Consider the mass hysteria induced by a handful of Saudis attacking the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, and look at the measures we’ve taken to combat the Muslim stereotype. We could point to statistics of black on black crime and of black on white crime to try to justify the stance of the NRA to stand absolute against any reasonable restriction of high-capacity semi-automatic weapons, but it doesn’t compute. In fact, there was a time NRA stood up to help train black Americans to protect themselves from the Ku Klux Klan and the local police in the South. There was a very real threat of white Americans coming to inflict mortal harm on black men and the NRA used its power, much limited in scope than it is now, to support the right to bear arms for newly freed slaves after the Civil War. Where soldiers in the North were encouraged to keep their rifles after the war, black American soldiers in the South were told no go. Southern white men were suddenly very pro gun control. Black Panthers came in the 1960s to rectify that, carrying guns to the letter of the law. They armed themselves to the gills with weapons and a superior understanding of the law, believing that the power of equal treatment came with the ownership of guns. California’s open carry laws stipulated that guns must be seen and carried in a non-threatening way, and as such, the Black Panthers paraded with them. Your liberal friends have passed around the Ronald Reagan meme, which quotes him as saying when he was Governor of California, “I do not believe in taking away the right of a citizen for sporting, for hunting, and so forth. But I do believe that an AK-47, a machine gun, is not a sporting weapon nor is needed for the defense of the home.” Reagan went on to say that he saw “no reason why on the street today a citizen should be carrying loaded weapons.” This was his response to the Panthers. He was all for gun control, if it meant limiting the access of guns to black citizens. Somewhere along the line, the group of protectors known as the NRA was overtaken by white men with dollar signs in their eyes, and, as Lance Armstrong apparently did to himself, took a perfectly fine idea and pumped it full of steroids and padded their pockets doing it. And we let them. Because they don’t look threatening. There are still threats of bad people doing bad things. There is still a need for protection. Some would argue that there is a real need for guns for domestic protection: for the house, to ward against intruders. Defenders of the NRA believe that the base of this group still stands for protection. Yet, the NRA’s official stance on arming a person who has committed domestic abuse on his wife, girlfriend, partner, friend? – Protect the domestic violence abuser. The NRA has strayed so far from its roots as a protector of victims that it is now a protector of perpetrators. In most states, an order of protection will not translate into an order to surrender firearms, even if the order of protection is granted because of a threat with a firearm. In too many cases, as in the those of Diane Dye of Oklahoma, or Stephanie Holten of Washington, or Deborah Wigg of Virginia, the protection of a man threatening to use his supposed constitutionally ordained firearm to kill his wife has trumped the protection of the woman he threatened. His rights to bear arms usurped her right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Or in these cases, her right to live, because two of the three are now dead. At the hands of white guys. If we’re looking at guns as a means of protection in this country, protection of the weak against the strong, the vulnerable against the powerful, the victims from the bullies, we need to look hard at who is writing our laws, who is financing our legislature, and most importantly, we need to adjust our ideas of exactly what a threatening mob looks like.

 Jaime Franchi is a freelance writer living on Long Island. Her work can be found on, Milieu Magazine, Punchnel’s, and soon in the New York Times “Motherlode” blog. Follow her on Twitter at @Jaimimimama. Image via Wikimedia Commons/CC License/Tim Dobbelaere

Sunday, June 30, 2013

What the US Congress must re-educate itself to learn, again!

For this US Democratic Government to rise to the reality of its insidious entanglements and subsequent own challenges; to learn, understand, grow, integrate, listen, and truly lead on the par this nation is_ begin here:

 'Wilhelm von Humboldt's "most famous work is considered to be The Sphere and Duties of Government and carries the historical divide by this text, also available as free from copyright, Chapter VIII, "Amelioration of Morals":
 "If now, in addition to this, we bring forward the principles before unfolded, which disapprove of all State agency directed to positive aims, and which apply here with especial force, since it is precisely the moral [human being] (*the words of this blogger) who feels every restriction most deeply; reflecting, further, that if there is one aspect of development more than any other which owes its highest beauty to freedom, this is precisely the culture of character and morals; then the justice of the following principle will be sufficiently manifest, viz. that the State must wholly refrain from every attempt to operate directly or indirectly on the morals and character of the nation, otherwise than as such a policy may become inevitable as a natural consequence of its other absolutely necessary measures; and that everything calculated to promote such a design, and particularly all special supervision of education, religion, sumptuary laws, etc., lies wholly outside the limits of its legitimate activity." '
 "…precisely the culture of character and morals…"

"…the State must wholly refrain from every attempt to operate directly or indirectly on the morals and character of the nation, …"

"… otherwise than as such a policy may become inevitable as a natural consequence of its other absolutely necessary measures; and that everything calculated to promote such a design, and particularly all special supervision of education, religion, sumptuary laws, etc., lies wholly outside the limits of its legitimate activity."

From Liberal International:
'With “The Limits of State Action” Humboldt set one of the first intellectual highlights of liberal thinking ... His thinking about the self-development of *a human being (the words of this blogger) and the role of the state inspired many philosophers and politicians, among them John Stuart Mill. Humboldt argues in his famous essay that a state seeking to provide for more then the physical safety of the citizens will inevitably destroy the freedom and the creativity of the individuals. The only source of progress in a liberal society is the free interaction of free people. In Humboldt's thought human beings must strive for self-cultivation within society and require society for their full development.

Wilhelm v. Humboldt is best remembered… for his contribution to the educational reforms of the 19th century. As a member of the Prussian reform government he created the humanistic Gymnasium and founded the Berlin University. Several significant education systems in the world community are strongly influenced by his ideas.' *Two international examples are the US and Japan also use from this model of education.

A good contemporary example that intelligently ties due consideration together for ways democratic governments can get in their own way, is found in the book titled, Subversives, written by reporter Seth Rosenfeld, and published in 2012. Meanwhile, consider this interview with the author and a writer for the Academe Blog.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Gun-happy nation, preventable violence not collectively averted, again

I am just going to post succinctly about this insecurity provoking issue, (*so-let's-not-talk-directly-about-it, NOT) thereby participating in issuing the call we must all heed. 
I participate in this call to greater public discourse by weaving in other sources, where the seemingly complex reality of gun control is being called forth. Consider deeply that unless active participative consideration is not only given rather is equally acted on through meaningful dialog, we will only continue to get handed the watered-down version of unsatisfactory amendments to vote on, reflecting our vacancy in the great discourse. A vacancy exploited by every member of Congress insecure about how to keep their job in the next election cycle. I call on us all to get conscious about the collective reality of responsibility lack to nourish an all too often fragile nature of democracy, when we don't show up locally in our communities, at the state level and on the national level to participate in responsible dialog! Making a leap in imagination: can we be robustly proud again of being free without beating our chests in front of one another in the process of working out differences around this issue?

Consider this portrayal of the public profile, on the subject of gun control:

"...major problem with the American conversation on guns is that too often the many factions that exist are represented as two simplified camps: liberals, who want to completely ban guns, and conservatives, who want all guns legal, and believe everyone should carry one (if not several!)."

Is it an accurate portrayal? In either direction, how so?

If we actively commit to participating in responsively conscious communication on gun control, consider that conversation skills do risk revealing the many ways guilt and lack of confidence project. Yet, by participating consider too that we each can reveal active abilities at intelligent minds and hearts as our responses intersect in clear, grounded communication again. 
I ask the middle majority and the fringe liberal majority, can we also assert the courage to take leadership responsibilities by mentoring confidence about discussing intense issues that must be worked out among us? I know we are not ALL only prone to unconscious judgmental reactionism in our capacities for meaningful forms of communication and inter-personal dialog. I know we still have pockets of observation, listening, and inquiry-based communication skills that we all need and can put to put to work for the greater good on this issue about HOW we are going to live more responsibly with the dangerous responsibilities of gun ownership.

Consider as you begin your commitment to dialog, how does it look and sound as we begin to flesh out our assumptions on either side of the issue(s)? Are any of those perspectives of assumption truly  accurate? "Most people seem to be somewhere in the middle: they agree that there should be a protected right to own certain guns, but also that we need to have a critical discussion about what “guns” really means, and what legal steps we might take to lessen the chance of unwanted shootings." How accurate or inaccurate are our assumptions about this conversation proceeding constructively/cohesively in the arcing commitment to respect and safety about differences? 
For example, do we really only "believe the discussion on gun control is nothing more than a discussion on gun laws?" 
After differences are established and rebutted appropriately, what happens next in the national conversation? 

The voices of everyday heroines & heros whose lives are busy in their responsibility trenches are required in these civic discourses, if a greater reality of guilt-free and confidently assertive democratic responsibility is truly desired. Keeping in mind that we find democracy in its finest, most active truth everyday, on the street-level forms of interactive and communicative exchanges of inter-personal, open negotiation.

So what's your position about gun control, and how do you think we ought to proceed from here to reach that?

Remember, we don't have to compete to open a conversation about strong issues, and we don't have to make a decision because we start talking with each other, especially where we differ passionately. Yet through conversation, let us keep faith that we can arrive at a collective decision solidly reflective of our commitment to dialog in ways that make us proud of our efforts with one another. Efforts that include conscious recognition that having disagreements along the way is truly expected, because we have not lost ability to trust in ourselves and one another as capable of arriving at a wholly reflective set of choices we agree to now. Just as actively communicating allows us to bring our skillful abilities to disagree peacefully and respectfully_ we enter these conversations conscious that disagreements are part of the enriching reality of even reaching toward agreement with one another, because mutual commitment to our collective responsibilities of refueling our beloved, collectively participative definition of Democracy is at the center of our national commitment to keep negotiating with one another.

*The quotes I found reasonable to pull from as I framed this post, are located under the CC attribute on this blog: