Monthly Archives: October 2012

Green Party of the United States: Why the Time for Voting Third Party Has Come

Pagan Activist has a new post on Sundays but, it being a week before the Presidential election here in the US, I wanted to put this post up in response to Witches & Pagans two posts suggesting Pagan Americans vote for either Mitt Romney or Barak Obama.

I read with interest Joseph Bloch’s piece “The Pagan Case for Mitt Romney” and Gus diZerega’s article “The Case for a 100% Democratic Vote”. Both men make valid points on why Pagans should continue to vote the two party system. However, in a time when dramatic change is most needed, I offer a third choice: Green Party of the United States.

The Green Party of the United States (GPUS) embodies much of what Americans across the political spectrum desire: money out of politics and grassroots democracy. GPUS does not accept donations from corporations/corporate persons and vehemently opposes the idea of corporate personhood. GPUS believes in grassroots democracy, that is power from the ground up rather than a top down hierarchical model of the Democrats and the Republicans. GPUS platform includes single payer healthcare including expanding reproductive rights, peace and disarmament, religious freedoms — oh so important to non-Abraham religious folk! — marriage equality, and environmental justice amongst so many other issues that affect us daily.

On 85% of the ballots nationwide GPUS is not a party to ignore. Rising steadily since the 1990s, Greens have won seats in local and state elections across the US including Massachusetts, California, Maine, New York, and Maryland. Candidates are running for a variety of seats in Indiana, New York, Michigan, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Maine, Florida, Tennessee, New Jersey, Connecticut, Texas, and District of Columbia. (source) When the GPUS gets 5% of the vote, “[it] will unleash $20 million in clean public funding for the 2016 Green presidential campaign, giving us the strength to get on every state ballot, break into the debates, and build demand for the Green New Deal.” (source). Read more about the Green New Deal here.

Has your presidential candidate been arrested trying to exercise his First Amendment right to the Freedom of Speech? Presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein and Vice-Presidential candidate Cheri Honkala were after trying to get in to the debate in New York a few weeks back. Video can be seen here. The two corporate parties are so afraid of letting in a third voice the two petite women were physically blocked by large, male police officers outside the debates so the two candidates sat down on the ground and were arrested for blocking traffic. One officer can be seen smirking as Dr. Stein and Ms. Honkala were attempting to get through the wall of chests. A Third Party Debate was held in Chicago earlier this month. You can see the video here in which Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party, Virgil Goode of the Constitution Party, and Gary Johnson of the Libertarian Party so you can learn more about each party and the candidates who represent those parties.

GPUS is a party that takes very seriously climate change. I sit here under the gray clouds of Hurricane Sandy (though I will not be hugely affected by bad weather because I live far north of where Sandy will make landfall and I live well inland so ocean flooding will not affect me) and I’m aware of how little climate change has been discussed in the debates between Obama and Romney. Jill Stein tweeted on October 28th: “Neither #Obama or #Romney mentioned #climatechange during their #debates, yet random, dangerous weather affects nearly 1 in 5 tonight.” Climate change is the most important issue of the 21st century. Sean Donahue said “The development of societies based on ideologies of infinite growth and infinite control is a brief evolutionary misdirection, an aberration in the global history of our species. We can, will, and must transform” and he’s right. GPUS takes a similar stance and focuses on green technologies, renewable energy, and ways to protect Mother Earth from unmitigated rape at the hands of greedy humans who believe Her resources are infinite and for theirs to take regardless of the detriment to Her and all those who inhabit Her.

Everything on Mother Earth starts out small before becoming large. And large things become small. It is all part of the circle of life, of interconnectedness of our planet. GPUS is rising from the quagmire the Republican and Democratic Parties have created around the world. By voting for GPUS you walk the walk and talk the talk. Nothing will change if voters continue to cast ballots for the lesser of two evils. To do so is to vote for evil and to vote for the status quo. I get a lot of flack for voting a third party especially since I live in a “swing state” but I remind my critics the Republican and Democratic parties started out as third parties. I’m willing to bet my last $5 those who were brave enough to vote for the Republicans and Democrats when the parties were mere zygotes were resoundingly criticized as I am.

I will not trade my social, political, and religious values to vote for the wanton destruction of Mother Earth, of greed, and of hatred of freedom. I value Earth, Water, Air, and Fire far too much to continue down a well trodden path of destruction. I value my freedom of speech, my freedom of movement, my right to an education, clean water, unpolluted air, healthy earth, and healthcare far too much to vote blue or red. The rainbow has so many colors and green happens to be one of my favorites. The green of the trees, of the grass, of the water, and of my politics.

Your Voice. Your Vote. Your Move.

We live in a pretty freaking awesome country.  Sure, it has its problems, not a few of which are connected to our politics, but there are some really great things about living in America.  If there weren’t, people wouldn’t still be trying to join us in as we continue our grand democratic experiment.

But there’s something that each of us should do, a role that — as citizens — we should perform that too few of us actually seem to accomplish.  It’s a fairly simple thing but, as we’ve learned, it can become deceptively complex.  If you haven’t guessed yet, it’s voting.

I read an article this past week about Christians planning to abstain from their vote.  Effectively, to give up their voice in this election; to give up their ability to help choose our direction.  And, they seem to be doing so because they find neither President Obama nor Governor Romney an appropriate candidate.

But, there are more options than that.  Voting for a third-party candidate can seem futile; we all know the likelihood of a third-party candidate actually winning the presidency is pretty much slim to none.  But, your vote shouldn’t simply be cast based on the likelihood of a candidate’s successful campaign.  You should be casting your vote to make your intentions clear.  When considered in that light, voting is a magical act.

While I suspect that many of you are familiar with the Obama and Romney platforms, you might be less familiar with the following presidential and vice presidential candidates:

Voting shouldn’t only be about helping someone win.  It’s about making your intention clear to the pollsters, to your friends and family, to the nation, and — if you believe as I do — the gods.

On November 6th — or earlier if your state allows it — make your voice heard.

It’s your vote.  Make your move.

The Silence of Poverty

The economy we live in is no longer in recession, it’s well entrenched in depression. The division between the “haves” and “have nots” is no longer a crack in the landscape rather it has become a gorge, almost a Grand Canyon. This widening gap is no longer just between the wealthy and the poor. It is between those who make up the middle-class. This gap is now appearing in small communities where many classes of people interact with one another where tensions increase when one group speaks truth to power.

The political becomes very personal when small communities are fractured.

I saw this play out on Facebook earlier this month. A woman was offering a class at a religious organization. She mentioned on Facebook if more individuals didn’t sign up for her class it would be canceled. I commented the cost of the class, the cost of gas, and tolls was too much money. Another person commented that my words were “unnecessary”. I then responded with the comment “poverty is silence.” In this case, the teacher was the person in power and I was the disempowered one, thus silenced by my poverty. I spoke my truth to her. Then I was dropped by the teacher, blocked by her, and banned from her page. The political became very personal.

After the whole escapade took place, I felt marginalized, ostracized, and banned. I felt alone and isolated. I felt my voice wasn’t welcome and I should not attempt to participate with the religious community I have thought of as my home for the last couple years. Tensions have eased somewhat but still I am wary of attending any event related to this group because of this mishap. The teacher has more power than I do by way of allies in the hierarchy of the organization.

I have not been able to attend events with my religious community for months because of the costs associated with attending and traveling. I brought this up to a person in a leadership role when I last attended an event in June only to have her shrug off my concerns. However, she told me how financially strapped she is but offered no solutions, no comfort, and did not attempt to ease my feelings of “otherness”.

This religious group collects food for the food bank and occasionally does drives to “help the poor.” But the poor have no face, no name. They are “other”. Poor people do not appear to be members of the organizations. If they are, they are silent. Being poor isn’t a crime or anything to be ashamed of but society makes us feel like there is. And the thing about poverty is this: there is always someone more poor than you. Judgments are made all the time about how poor someone appears to be. I speak about the lack of money in my life. I speak about my inability to find a job. I point out inconsistencies, inaccuracies, and double standards. And because I use my voice, I have been left shunned, banned, and isolated.

Canyons do not appear overnight. They take place slowly. A crack slowly widens to become a gorge. Individuals will find themselves on one side or the other while large groups fall in. If ever there was a time for communities to band together the time is now. Bridges need to be built for where there is no repairing the canyon. Keeping the canyon from forming, though, that is the priority. We can keep those canyons from forming by welcoming everyone regardless of the amount they can pay and paying special attention to transportation costs.

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Sitting in and lying down are a way to take a stand – Have You Been to Jail for Justice?

By Debra

When Michelle asked me write an article for Pagan Activist, I was at first unsure of what I would write about but I quickly realized that my identity as a Pagan and certainly my identity as an activist, each came to me in different yet similar ways.

Growing up in a Jewish household, religion and I parted ways fairly early on. Yet there was something undefined, unidentified and unvoiced that continued to grow with me all along the way. Feeling at home in the woods, being brought to tears at the first sign of Spring, recognizing a full moon slipping into my window before I fell asleep as a blessing, acknowledging the circularity of seasons and relationships and life in general – all of these were with me but there was no name I could put to them. There was no way in which I could explain their importance to me.

In 1994, when other parts of my life were about to take the most unexpected turns, I was drawn to the book The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. Yes, I know it is a work of fiction but I also know what a profound affect it had on me! It didn’t teach me things I didn’t know but rather defined things that I previously had no name for. It is hard to describe the joy, the liberation of reading about a reverence for the old ways (which I knew only instinctively) and a way of looking at the world in terms of Goddesses and Gods in the plural rather than one God only. Marion Zimmer Bradley wrote of a world in which I was so at home, so blissfully comfortable with connections to the Mother, so grateful to finally have a word of self definition. I was finally able to say, both internally and out loud… I know who I am. I am Debra, daughter of Bernice, granddaughter of Rose and I am Pagan. Since then I’ve learned some things on my own and have also come to know other Pagans from whom I have so much more to learn.

Move ahead to September and October of 2011. At first, after reading about Occupy Wall Street and seeing small bits on the news, my gut reaction was that something very important was in the process of being born. Several weeks later, I read about cities across the country giving birth to their own Occupy communities and I looked up the possibility of one such community being present in Hartford. They were here! I went to Turning Point Park (the name is now significant to Occupy and to me personally) to ask questions, see if help was needed and to connect. Sure enough, just as my literary discovery had helped name who I was spiritually, my talking with and learning from these dear people who were willing to put themselves out there for something greater than themselves, helped me to define myself in another way. How many times over the years had I reacted internally over this or that injustice, been so angry at the unwillingness of government to act responsibly or been horrified by the fortune of a few at the expense of the many, all the while feeling there was nothing I could do. I was, after all, only one person and certainly not up to the task of taking on society’s wrongs. But again, a blessing of discovery came to me in the form of Occupy. It opened my eyes to possibility, brought me together with people who have become another family to me and took my soul by the hand to show me that together we CAN and we WILL make changes. My personal change from all of this is that I was able to add another word to my definition of who I am. I am an Activist! Just as the “chance” reading of a book gave voice to my spirit, so did my “chance” discovery of Occupy give voice to my purpose. I am indeed very lucky to have been twice so blessed.

All of this came full circle for me this past weekend at a Mabon gathering – a gathering to which I was invited by a Pagan Occupy sister! We were all invited to bring things to the altar – things that are important to us and hold our deepest thoughts and wishes for this season of harvest and things to come. As part of my contribution, I placed a copy of GMO FAQs and the Non GMO Project’s Shopping Guide in the very center of the table. What better way to combine my spirit gratitude for the harvest and all that Mother Earth has provided along with my activist determination to make sure we continue to take care of her, respect her, honor her and work for a future where corporations do not take over our food supply and then tell us to be grateful.

I send this short story with gratitude to everyone, whether “fictional” characters in a book or the very real people in my life, both in the Pagan community and in Occupy. Thank you for helping me discover who I am.


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The benefits of doing your homework

A few weeks ago I retweeeted something to my followers about a product made from neem being patented, and then something created in nature being under ownership of a person. Often when I share something like this it’s as food for thought, as well as something for me to investigate at a later date. In a fit of wanting to clear up my inbox some earlier in the week, I came across one of the comments I received on Facebook.

As you can see from the most basic searching in the link above, this did happen.
In Europe.
In 1995.
And the patent was later revoked.

However, the tweet with this information implied that it was solely a United States case. Not a complete lie, but certainly an instance where it could turn into misinformation. As we have seen in the overall Pagan community, one bad piece of information can be picked up by several different sources and claimed as truth through repetition. I can’t handle misinformation being spread in this matter. And it can become difficult for the truth to be heard when the lies are so much louder.

Is it any wonder that I ended up as a librarian?

“Google can bring you back 100,000 answers, a librarian can bring you back the right one.” -Neil Gaiman

If you are going to be an activist, or even care about an issue, it is essential to have a good background of the material surrounding this issue. Not only will it better inform you as a citizen, it will give you ammunition (though I hate to use the term) when dealing with people opposed to your stance.

1. Read, read, read.

Read everything you can find on the topic. Read blogs, but moreso read books and articles. Read as much as you can. Read opposing viewpoints so you know what other people are saying and thinking about your issue. If it matters to you that much, make the time to learn as much about it as you can.
Also, rely on sources more in-depth than Wikipedia. Any librarian worth their salt now will tell you that the site is a good jumping-off point, but it’s also very easy for misinformation to be spread through its entries.*

2. Talk to people.

This goes hand in hand with the first point. Not only is it an extension of research, the exchange of ideas will help to refine your own stance on the matter. They may know something you don’t know, or they may have another stance on the matter which will either shed light on the subject or help you to hone your own understanding.

3. Share your learning.

Even if it’s just telling one person close to you what you have learned, share it. We live in a culture in which the media outlets are becoming more and more monopolistic and any alternatives can be painted as fringe. Get the information out there.

What prompted me to do this post is a desire to become better educated about the subject of genetic engineering. Ever since I first became aware of the issues in the mid-1990s, many of the topics it brought up did not sit well in my brain. For all my opposition, when questioned it becomes difficult for me to remember all my talking points and I realized I don’t know the material well enough to speak about the topic with authority. I had hoped to do enough research recently to be able to do a post here about genetic engineering, but it’s a big topic. So I am undertaking the very steps outlined above, and hope that next time I’ll be able to show all of you the fruits of my labor.

*I wish I could embed this video!

Activist Burnout: Tired, Overwhelmed, and Hopeless

Vicious Circle

–By Shauna Aura Knight

Do you ever get exhausted? I’m not talking physically, I’m talking about that kind of emotional state of being just empty, drained. Or perhaps for you it manifests more as being overwrought, stressed out.

However you experience it for yourself, almost all of us who are fighting for something, working towards some larger goal, get burned out at some point.

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