26 March 2017

Let's Not Keep Quiet

We might have found our anthem (thank you, Connie Lim, aka MILCK). But if that's the case, please let this song (also) be about climate justice ... because if we don't get that right — and fast — in a very short while there won't be any safety, justice or equal rights for anyone, anywhere.

Please let's not keep quiet about the climate change emergency, about its perpetrators (and perpetuators), and about how their denial for the sake of greed is killing our children's future.

p.s. I'm working on a climate change verse, but I'm no songwriter, so it might take a while. (Send me your suggestions!)

Published on Youtube on February 17, 2017:
In the face of adversity, MILCK refuses to be silent. The Los Angeles-based singer went viral at the Washington Women’s March with her song “(I Can’t Keep) Quiet.” We loved it. So we invited her to come sing it with us.

On February 6th, a sold-out crowd of 1300 singers at the Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto raised their voices to protest the current US administration’s threatening action on global liberty, women’s rights, healthcare, etc. Daveed Goldman and Nobu Adilman, co-founders of C!C!C! [Choir! Choir! Choir!], taught their arrangement of “Quiet” to the pumped-up, all-ages crowd, and an hour later, MILCK joined them to sing lead and record a powerful show of peaceful, harmonic resistance, with proceeds going to support the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Quiet” has quickly grown from female empowerment anthem to a unifying message of hope and raucous protest for young and old, and for all genders. Play it, feel it, share it!

by Connie Lim and Adrianne Gonzalez 

Put on your face
Know your place
Shut up and smile
Don’t spread your legs
I could do that

But no one knows me, no one ever will
If I don’t say something, if I just lie still
Would I be that monster, scare them all away
If I let them hear what I have to say

I can’t keep quiet, no oh oh oh oh oh oh
I can’t keep quiet, no oh oh oh oh oh oh
A one woman riot, no oh oh oh oh oh oh

I can’t keep quiet
For anyone

Cuz no one knows me, no one ever will
If I don’t say something, take that dry blue pill
They may see that monster, they may run away
But I have to do this

I can’t keep quiet, no oh oh oh oh oh oh
I can’t keep quiet, no oh oh oh oh oh oh
A one woman riot, no oh oh oh oh oh oh
Oh, I can’t keep quiet

There'll be someone who understands
Let it out 
Let it out
Let it out now
There’ll be someone who understands
Let it out 

Let it out
Let it out now
Must be someone who’ll understand
Let it out 

Let it out
Let it out now
There’ll be someone who understands
Let it out 

Let it out
Let it out now

I can’t keep quiet

19 March 2017

The Age of Consequences

My faithful readers — all 11 or 12 of you (thank you!)— will know that this blog flows from my deep compassion for all the children, of all species, who are facing a hellish future due to climate chaos. (Many live in places already hit hard by the climate change emergency.) 

You will also know that I don't have much compassion anymore for the greedy, evil, pignorant (pretend ignorant), and ecologically illiterate bastards who refuse to pull the plug on this brewing hell on Earth. My patience has worn right through.

Now I find myself also losing patience with those who aid and abet the bastards, out of their own ignorance, selfish wishful thinking, or just plain being behind the times. 

Case in point is a movie reviewer whose critique of a climate change movie I read this week. The Age of Consequences*, a documentary directed by Jared Scott,
investigates how climate change impacts resource scarcity, migration, and conflict through the lens of US national security and global stability. Whether a long-term vulnerability or sudden shock, the film unpacks how water and food shortages, extreme weather, drought, and sea-level rise function as accelerants of instability and catalysts for conflict. Left unchecked, these threats and risks will continue to grow in scale and frequency, with grave implications for peace and security in the 21st century.
Does that sound like a hand-holding movie to you? A benevolent primer on the greatest threat ever to face our species. A gentle introduction to the greatest ever crime against humanity? No, right? It sounds hard-hitting. It sounds like it pulls no punches. It sounds like it's trying desperately to make America (and, hopefully, the rest of the world) safe again. Yet a New York City movie critic describes it as "stylishly edited and timely" but "too angry, exhausting and repetitive while failing to be inspirational, balanced or truly enlightening" (from Rotten Tomatoes).

WTF? A movie about the inching-ever-closer climate-racked end of the world has to be inspirational? Balanced? Enlightening? Give me a break! Give the blessed children a break! 

I am reminded of an Earth Day post from 2012 in which I suggested the early morning equivalent of this scenario: If I discover a fire in a crowded movie theatre and start yelling that people should leave by the nearest exit, I don't want to hear anyone responding, "You didn't say please." I am doing my duty by alerting you to the danger. Now you should just head for the exit. Don't question. Don't ask for a second opinion. Don't wait to get your ticket refunded. Just get out!

Do we feel SO entitled in this society that we can't watch a documentary about the urgency of climate disruption without expecting enlightenment and inspiration for the same price of admission? Sheesh.

By the way, several critics appreciated the movie. For example, Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat call it "a startling documentary that presents new twists on the global climate change crisis and what to do about it." Hmmm, sounds like they were inspired and enlightened! Watch for The Age of Consequences to find a cinema near you soon.

* Full disclosure: I helped fund the making of this movie through a Kickstarter campaign, however, as of today I have not yet seen it. In fact, I'm trying to figure out why I didn't get my very own copy of it as a Kickstarter reward!

12 March 2017

Experiencing Censorship in All the Wrong Places

Censorship. A simple definition might be "the examination of material (such as books, movies, news, and art) and official suppression of any parts that are considered obscene, politically unacceptable, or a threat to security (adapted from my computer's dictionary). It is closely related to censure, which means harsh criticism or to criticize harshly.

We used to think of censorship merely in terms of what happened to books and movies that hadn't yet been released. Next came book banning and even book burning. Then some (of the very people who liked to ban and burn books) started equating political correctness with censorship. (I've always considered political correctness to be society's fancy way of labeling what mothers everywhere used to urge: "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.") And with the election of T**** in the United States, saying nasty things about "others" is now considered freedom of speech, so any talk of censorship is seen as unconstitutional — almost tantamount to treason. (Sheesh.)

But lately, censorship seems to have gone wonky in other ways, too ... some consternating and some downright dangerous. Within the last three days, I have experienced censorship in conversation with three different friends.

First, I was telling a friend about a disturbing incident that I'd read about in the paper. "Does this have a sad ending? If so, I don't need to hear it." The story was a cautionary tale about her field of work, but it did, indeed, have a sad ending. So with that, I was shut down. 

And I felt shut down — censored. But mostly I felt sad that there are people who won't (can't?) allow themselves to feel the sadness of others. Have some of us become so fragile that there's no strength and no room left for empathy? How are we going to face the extreme sorrow of the climate change emergency if we can't even share a story about a sad incident in a next-door city?

I don't just tell stories willy-nilly. There's a point to a story that I choose to share — sometimes it has a connection to the other person, but sometimes it's simply something that I found interesting or edifying. In the second incident, I recounted a short TV show that I'd watched on Netflix and found instructive for my own career. I'll admit that my menopausal brain might have made the story more meandering than it needed to be. But my friend, instead of engaging with the story, said (I'm paraphrasing), "You know how people who watch TV will talk about shows they've watched and bore you to tears? You just did that."

Ouch. Obviously her mother never instructed her to say nothing if she didn't have anything nice to say — that was my first thought. But then I began to mourn the lack of patience our society has developed. Can't we just talk about "stuff" with friends anymore? If we don't have the time and patience for everyday — uncensored — conversations, how will we ever have the time and patience to listen to how serious the climate crisis is, the science behind it, and the solutions we needed to implement yesterday?

On my way to tea with a third friend, I kept chanting, "Don't talk about T****, don't say anything negative. Don't talk about T****, don't say anything negative." This friend is (what I think is being called) a progressive. I'm simply someone who likes to get to the bottom of things, so months before the American election, I'd been reading up on T****'s growing popularity. My friend and I had a falling out because I wanted to talk about it (the rise of T****) and she didn't. I've been self-censoring around her ever since. (In fact, it didn't even cross my mind until just now that I could have said, "I warned you.") 

Positive thinking does not stop evil and greed. It just doesn't. It doesn't get the good people elected. It certainly hasn't mitigated climate disruption. Talking about how Big Money and Big Oil are killing the future, what their strategies are, and how we can beat them — that's how we will, well, beat them. Not by pretending that everything is goodness and light. 

If we're going to fill our lives with censorship, I'd like to suggest some Censorship for the Planet. Let's stop giving column inches in our newspapers and blogs to climate change deniers. Let's stop watching news and other shows that give air time to climate change deniers. Let's stop "sharing" the dangerously misleading drivel and "alternative facts" of climate change deniers on our social media channels. 

Folks, let's stop censoring ourselves, our friends and our loved ones (and our climate scientists) and start really listening to them. If we're going to censor at all, let's censor (and censure) those who are committing the greatest evil and the greatest ever crime against humanity: climate change deniers who have delayed urgent action on this emergency for decades, causing millions to lose their lives or their livelihoods, their food security and water sources, their homes or entire homelands. 

Let's be very clear that freedom of speech and expression should not, does not, cannot include the freedom to commit progenycide.

05 March 2017

Compassion Tune-Up: "There's a Choice We're Making, We're Saving Our Own Lives"

Do you remember the song We Are the World? It's a song that was recorded by umpteen famous American singers in 1985, to raise money for African famine relief. I remember at the time thinking, "There go those Yanks again, thinking they own the world." But the single went quadruple platinum and they raised over $63 million US (the equivalent of $138 million today), so who was I to judge? 

You know, one million people died in Ethiopia between 1983 and 1985 due to famine. Today, the lives of 5.6 million Ethiopians are threatened by drought and famine. As La Rochefoucauld said, the more things change, the more they stay the same. 


That was a long-winded way of introducing this week's blog post. My hubby and I were despairing earlier this week that nothing is changing. People still don't feel the emergency, the crisis, the climate chaos and the ocean devastation, and they're not demanding change. 

That reminded Peter of Jiddu Krishnamurti, an Indian philosopher "discovered" by the Theosophical Society in 1909.

For Peter, the wisest thing that the very wise Krishnamurti ever said was that (I'm paraphrasing) we are the world, so if we ever expect to change the world, we'd better change ourselves. Right now. 

To explain it better, some pictures might be worth a thousand words or so. 

We Are the World
— Michael Jackson and Lionel Richie

There comes a time when we heed a certain call
When the world must come together as one
There are people dying
And it's time to lend a hand to life
The greatest gift of all

We can't go on pretending day by day
That someone, somewhere will soon make a change
We all are a part of God's great big family
And the truth, you know,
Love is all we need

We are the world, we are the children
We are the ones who make a brighter day
So let's start giving
There's a choice we're making
We're saving our own lives
It's true we make a better day
Just you and me

Send them your heart so they'll know that someone cares
And their lives will be stronger and free
As God has shown us by turning stone to bread
So we all must lend a helping hand


When you're down and out, there seems no hope at all
But if you just believe there's no way we can fall
Let's realize that a change can only come
When we stand together as one