Monday, June 20, 2011

The Garden Party

Photo by Everyman

Ever heard of the Garden Party? It does sound a little more productive than tea parties, doesn’t it? From its appellation, it appears that members of this party are growing something instead of sitting around drinking tea, shooting the breeze, and talking politics. A quick search on the Internet won’t come up with anything about this movement, which is surprising. The principles of the Garden Party are practical and very doable, especially for this period of time when it’s critical that individuals and families are encouraged to go local and organic. Let’s face it, climate change is a reality. There are plenty of scientific studies that point to the urgent state of our planet, as well as devastating physical manifestations of Mother Nature herself in the forms of earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, droughts, and for some countries, floods. Climate change is here to stay – be it global warming or global cooling – unless humankind does something about it, for example, curb manmade activities that are toxic to our air, our planet, and to the survival of all beings.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations released a report, “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” which implicates the livestock industry as the number one source of greenhouse gas emissions, 18 percent, more than all the transportation sectors combined. However, in 2009, researchers at the Worldwatch Institute estimated that that number is a bit higher, producing about 32.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year. That’s about 51 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. Imagine that. Just reducing our meat consumption – or even better, going vegetarian or vegan – we, as individuals, are already doing our part in the fight to stop or even reverse climate change.

Aside from cutting the meat out of our diet, we can contribute our efforts in another way – going organic. If the world’s agriculture switch to organic farming, not only will we eliminate chemical runoffs of fertilizers into the oceans, which harm marine life as well as create dead zones, but the sustainable methods of organic farming actually absorb 40 percent of the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. That’s why a Garden Party is so important. A Garden Party in every neighborhood – what a wonderful way to have healthy and affordable vegetables, right in our backyard, or windowsill or rooftop.

Let us take a look at the Manifesto of the Garden Party (which can be found in its entirety at the Feral Scholar website):
1. The Garden Party is a collection of people who are committed to designing and implementing local, practical initiatives that:

a. increase food security through local sustainability
b. reduce our dependency on money, on-the-grid jobs, expensive and entropic technology, service agencies, and the government to feed ourselves.

2. The Garden Party is not seeking to acquire power for itself, but to deflate the structures of power by reducing people’s dependencies on those structures, in particular from the industrial food-grid, general-purpose money, and administration/management by employers, service agencies, and government.
The Garden Party is preparing for the ultimate General Strike, whereupon people can quit working for wages, quit requiring money to survive, quit paying taxes, quit obeying cruel, stupid, and unjust laws, and quit requiring resources that are not locally available for survival. This will not happen in one stroke, but little by little, spreading as both root and seed.

3. The Garden Party is peaceable. We do not accept the right of anyone to use physical force to bend the will of another; and we will not use any form of violence against persons as part of any campaign or initiative, no matter how much violence and force might increase our efficacy. The ends do not justify the means.

4. The Garden Party can “bind and loose.” If we voluntarily participate together in a boycott, or pickets against some entity, or any other trans-local initiative, then so be it. It requires no executive bodies, but can be suggested in the course of broad communication. Broad communication is encouraged to share helpful, practical tips, and to describe local activities. If the majority decides to participate in trans-local actions, then the majority will participate. No one will be coerced or expelled who doesn’t. If local groups want to initiate local projects, they need not request permission from anyone. Executive committees are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

5. There are no geographic boundaries for the Garden Party. Anyone anywhere can join.
6. The Garden Party is based on a concept of community that emphasizes the practical and personal, not the ideological. Local groups of the Garden Party should be friends. If you can’t be friends and treat each other with genuine goodwill and affection, then nothing you do will last anyway. A communication network is a good thing, but it is not a community. Communities can share food with each other, tend to each others’ children, nurture one another through times of personal trial, and celebrate together. If you’re too far apart to do these things, then there’s a better word than community.

The only requirement for membership into the Garden Party is to have a garden, be it pots that sit on windowsills or vegetables in plastic containers around the yard. What a wonderful way to empower ourselves, our family, as well as our neighborhoods and community. We are not helpless in the face of climate change. Together as a free-thinking collective, we can make a huge difference.

Kudos to Stan of the Feral Scholar website for the Garden Party concept. May there be members in every neighborhood throughout the world.

Friday, June 17, 2011

A True Leader

Photo by Alex Cherney

We need a leader who speaks for the people
We need a hero who cares not about what others think
We need someone who will do the right thing
To fight for the downtrodden, the poor and the hopeless
To stand up for justice and speak the truth
Who won’t sell his soul to the highest bidder
Drenching himself in the blood of the people thereafter

We need a leader who’s good and kind
Who’s brave and ready to sacrifice for humankind
We need someone who won’t give in to pressure
To lobbyists and bankers and corrupt politicians
Who doesn’t care about the label of “Democrat” or “Republican”

We need someone like the FDR of old
Who challenged the old guards
And gave the people hope
Who brought the water of life
Back to the dying land
And to the desperate he gives a helping hand
Restoring to them their human dignity

We need someone who’s a true public servant
Not just for our country but the world and all beings

The people are crying
The planet is dying
The heart of the nation
Is disappearing…  

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Thought on the Existence of Life

Photo by M. N.
Have you ever wondered about the existence of life? Have you questioned why you were born at all? Life can't just be all there is, the daily conundrum of waking up, going to work, come back, sleep, and then it starts all over again the next day. It can't just be merely for procreation -- the animals do a better job of it than us. There must be something more. Perhaps it's this question of the meaning of life that had driven people like the Buddha, Lao Tzu, Confucius, Jesus, Muhammad, Guru Nanak, Kabir, and all the past ancient and modern masters and prophets to forsake everything, risking their lives in search of a single concept: an unknown Truth. Maybe they did find it, and perhaps that Truth is embedded in their teachings, their poetry, a Truth so profound which stirs our hearts when we read it, though we know not what it is.

I heard a very wise person said, and I'm paraphrasing: Human existence is to rediscover the love within ourselves -- a love that transcends all racial boundaries, all gender barriers, beyond the appellation of "species." It is a selfless love that only finds fulfillment and contentment when it is activated for the betterment of other beings, be it human or animal.

Are human beings capable of this? Is it as unreachable as the stars above? It is a question that only each individual can answer for himself or herself.