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November 22, 2009

Institution Building: Civil Society is Key Ingredient for Nonviolent Paradigm Shifts

People often find this blog when trying to understand what social upheaval is. There are many possible answers, but the definition I use is: nonviolent paradigm shift.

Globally, militarism, patriarchy, and free-trade capitalism are fundamental pillars of human interaction. I believe social upheaval is needed to create a society where the economy is based on human needs, where all people participate equally in the political process, and the use of physical force is severely limited, replaced by diplomacy.

Civil society is the key ingredient to accomplishing these goals. The institutions of civil society, such as Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, provide individuals with a way to participate in the political process with as much legitimacy and weight as any political party or corporation.

While I believe helping individuals and communities succeed within the current global paradigm through development activities is important, development work does not create new systems of social and political equality.

From WILPF's Constitution:

WILPF makes it its duty to further by non-violent means the social transformation that enables the inauguration of systems under which social and political equality and economic justice for all can be attained, without discrimination on the basis of sex, race, religion, or any other grounds whatsoever.
The League's focus on education and political action helps hold politicians accountable and provides people an opportunity to participate in the social upheaval needed to transform the world.

I fervently believe individuals working collectively through NGOs are the key ingredient to creating a better future.

What are you doing to create peace and justice?

Posted by cj at 5:13 PM | Comments (0)

November 15, 2009

The Journey Toward India Continues

My visa application (including my actual passport) has been sent to the Indian consulate in San Francisco. I've submitted forms to the Cedars-Sinai travel clinic to find out what shots I need before I go. And I bought a ticket. Almost.

I was awarded a Kay Camp Travel Grant and I've received an incredible amount of support from individual donors. So I think I have fulfilled my fundraising goals for this conference. That is, unless something goes wrong with my flights.

I used trip.com to find flights on multiple travel sites. It was annoying - since each travel site popped up as a new window, but it saved me money. Except, now I'm beholden to Travelocity in a weird way. I booked flights on Air India through Travelocity, flying across the globe. My departure takes me through Japan and Singapore before arriving in Mumbai. My return takes me through Frankfurt (and maybe Jersey) before returning to LA.

And then I got an email from Travelocity yesterday that my flights aren't confirmed. So I called. And after a long wait, and a confusing conversation with an operator, was told that I needed to call back after 8:30 a.m. India Standard Time. So I called back and spoke with a more confident operator who left me on hold for over 10 minutes while she spoke to Air India. Apparently, I was wait-listed on two of my four flights, but I'm now confirmed on 3 of the flights. I have to call Travelocity back on Wednesday or Thursday to see if I've gotten off the wait list on my first flight. If not, Air India will rebook me. But all of this must be completed by November 23. I suppose I really should have taken the operator's name or some way of confirming that this conversation happened, since my entire trip depends on actually arriving in India.

Why didn't I just cancel the reservation and rebook? Well, flights to India are at least $500 more than the price I "paid." So, it's possible I'll need to keep raising money around this trip.

In the meantime, I'm trying to move forward as if the trip is definitely happening. I'm flying into Mumbai and the WILPF board meeting is at Gandhi University in Ahmedabad.

I'll have about a week to be a tourist in Mumbai and Ahmedabad (with a train ride between them) before settling into 5 days of nonstop peace organizing. This Wednesday, I'll be participating in a conference call to discuss how I can help with the workshop "Strategic Planning and Campaign Building in a Digital Age."

The next six months will be a historical transition point for WILPF as an organization. I am hopeful that my integrated marketing expertise and ten year history with the organization will allow me to be a positive participant in our ongoing work.

Posted by cj at 6:59 PM | Comments (0)

November 4, 2009

Healthcare, faith, healing, fixing the system

There are pages of thoughts behind this post.

Let's start with how radically broken the US healthcare system is. Radically, meaning at the root: at the root of the problem is the notion that gambling on whether I get sick or not is a rational way to fund health care. "Health Insurance" has no place in a rational society that recognizes the human right to health: and that in general, human beings should not be punished for the state of their health. Since its takes humanity to create the ills that befall us (see rising cancer rates. increases in asthma), humans as individuals cannot carry the burden of modernity.

Some people react to the randomness of the world by believing in religious healers. Though it is true that your mental and physical states are closely aligned, and that moral psychology can help diminish dis-ease, US healthcare will not be made better by inserting Christian Science into the officially sanctioned list of disease fighters.

At the end of the day, "prayer treatments" are probably a sham, and definitely have no place in the federal healthcare overhaul bill. But it's a minor, farcical side note to a larger transgression: in the name of political expediency, the Democratic Party threw its principles away to convert a minority, mis-informed conservative cabal that believes Economics & Individual Responsibility & Free Trade Greed will cure the US healthcare crisis.

"Healthcare provision seeks to embrace prayer treatments," by Tom Hamburger and Kim Geiger in the LA Times

At a later date, I hope to have time to continue this thread.

Posted by cj at 10:05 PM | Comments (0)