Icon of the Inexhaustible Chalice
"Bridegrooms with their brides rejoiced.
Blessed be the Babe, whose Mother
was Bride of the Holy One!
Blessed the marriage feast,
whereat Thou wast present, in which
when wine was suddenly wanting,
in Thee it abounded again!"
De Nativitate, Hymn 6 (Cf. John 2:1-12)
St. Ephrem the Syrian, 4th Century AD
This year we reach the Advent-Christmas season in the midst of worldwide turmoil. The article and supplements this month attempt to provide objective evidence about current trends and outlook for the future. It seems evident that a significant cultural evolution is happening worldwide, even though the pace of change is faster in some regions, slower in others. Globalization tends to slow down those who want to go too fast and, conversely, spurs those who resist change to move forward. It is reasonable to infer that the end of the patriarchal age is in sight, but the contours of the next age are not yet clearly visible. Apprehension, if not fear, seems to be pervasive in the collective global unconscious. For Christians, this beautiful season of Advent is a source of sure hope for a new advent of social and ecological justice. May this Christmas remind people that, 2020 years ago (4 BCE) in Bethlehem, God became flesh, thereby sealing a new covenant with humanity that will never be broken. It is now up to us to collaborate in the divine plan, and one way to do it is by fostering solidarity and sustainability in human relations, locally and everywhere. Before the incarnation, what we had was the patriarchal culture of domination/subordination that is most universally manifested in male/female relations but extends to all human/human and human/nature relations. After the incarnation and the redemption, and especially after the resurrection, we are called to heal all human divisions and restore a healthy planetary ecology for the common good of humanity and the entire community of creation.
The Drums of War, by George Monbiot
'Resistance Is Courage': Author and Climate Warrior Offers Thoughts on Struggle Ahead, by Lauren McCauley
Solidarity Politics to Resist the Coming Regime, by
Beyond Economism: The Prospect of the Commons, by
Unifying Commons-based Projects in a Self-organized Solidarity Economy, by Christian Siefkes, Gunter Kramp, and Johannes Euler
The True Sharing Economy: Inaugurating an Age of the Heart, by Mohammed Mesbahi
If God Is Love, Why Are Religions So Partisan?, by Carmine Gorga
Scrap the conventional model of Third World "development", by
Unwinding the Human Predicament: Part 3 - Forces exist that transition to and maintain a sustainable civilization, by Jack Alpert
Why Lower Gasoline Prices Begin the End of the World Oil Age, by John Howe
The Growth Trap, by Charles St. Pierre
The Population Problem: Not as Bad as You Might Think, by Karen Lynn Allen
The Future of Artificial Intelligence: The Human-Machine Frontier, by Anthon Botha
Increasing the Usability of Climate Science in Political Decision-Making, by Emily R. Newsom, Andrea J. Fassbender, Ashley E. Maloney, and Seth M. Bushinsky
Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals:
Where to Start?, by Nienke Palstra and Ruth Fuller
New Website for Better Access to Earth Observation Data, by GEOSS
Trickle-Down Economics Is Not a Tenable Premise for Development, by UNU-WIDER
Data vs. Dogma: Global Warming, Extreme Weather and the Scientific Consensus, by Claudia von Werlhof
With Trump, a Renewed Call to Radical Feminist Men, by Robert Jensen
An Appeal to End Religious Patriarchy in the Catholic Church, by Luis Gutierrez
Advances in Sustainable Development
Directory of Sustainable Development Resources
Strategies for Solidarity and Sustainability
Best Practices for Solidarity and Sustainability
Fostering Gender Balance in Society
Fostering Gender Balance in Religion
Meditations on Man and Woman, Humanity and Nature
The Drums of War
This article was originally published in
The Guardian, 23 November 2016, and George Monbiot, 24 November 2016
REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION OF THE AUTHOR
"The combination of automation, complexity and climate change is dangerous
in ways we haven’t even begun to grasp."
Wave the magic wand and the problem goes away. Those pesky pollution laws, carbon caps and clean power plans: swish them away and the golden age of blue-collar employment will return. This is Donald Trump’s promise, in his video message on Monday, in which he claimed that unleashing coal and fracking will create “many millions of high-paid jobs”. He will tear down everything to make it come true.
But it won’t come true. Even if we ripped the world to pieces in the search for full employment, leaving no mountain unturned, we would not find it. Instead, we would merely jeopardise the prosperity – and the lives – of people everywhere. However slavishly governments grovel to corporate Luddism, they will not bring the smog economy back.
No one can deny the problem Trump claims to be addressing. The old mining and industrial areas are in crisis throughout the rich world. And we have seen nothing yet.
I have just re-read the study published by the Oxford Martin School in 2013 on the impacts of computerisation. What jumps out today, to put it crudely, is that jobs in the rustbelts and rural towns that voted for Trump are at high risk of automation; while the professions of many Clinton supporters are at low risk.
The jobs most likely to be destroyed are in mining, raw materials, manufacturing, transport and logistics, cargo handling, warehousing and retailing, construction (pre-fabricated buildings will be assembled by robots in factories), office support, administration and telemarketing. So what, in the counties that voted for Trump, will be left?
Farm jobs have mostly gone already. Service and care work, where hope for some appeared to lie, will be threatened by a further wave of automation, as service robots – commercial and domestic – take over. Yes, there will be jobs in the green economy, more and better than any that could be revived in the fossil economy. But they won’t be enough to fill the gaps, and many will be in the wrong places.
At lower risk is work that requires negotiation, persuasion, originality and creativity. The management and business jobs that demand these skills are comparatively safe from automation; so are lawyers, teachers, researchers, doctors, journalists, actors and artists. The jobs that demand the highest educational attainment are the least susceptible to computerisation. The divisions tearing America apart will only widen.
Even this bleak analysis does not capture in full the underlying reasons why good, abundant jobs will not return to the places that need them most. As Paul Mason argues in Postcapitalism, the impacts of information technology go way beyond simple automation: it is likely to destroy the very basis of the market economy and the relationship between work and wages.
And, as the independent thinker Paul Arbair notes in the most interesting essay I have read this year, beyond a certain level of complexity, economies become harder to sustain. There’s a point at which further complexity delivers diminishing returns; society is then overwhelmed by its demands and breaks down. He argues that the political crisis in Western countries suggests we may have reached this point.
In the same video address on Monday, Trump announced that he will withdraw America from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). He is right to do so, for the wrong reasons. Like TTIP and CETA, the TPP is a fake trade treaty, whose primary impact is to extend corporate property rights at the expense of both competition and democracy. But withdrawal will not, as he claims, “bring jobs and industry back to American shores”. The work in Mexico and China that Trump wants to reclaim will evaporate long before it can be repatriated.
As for the high-quality, high-waged working class jobs he promised, these are never handed down from on high. They are secured through the organisation of labour. But the unions were smashed by Ronald Reagan, and collective bargaining has been suppressed ever since by casualisation and fragmentation. So how is this going to happen? Out of the kindness of Trump’s heart? Kindness, Trump, heart?
But it’s not just Trump. Clinton and Sanders also made impossible promises to bring back jobs. Half the platform of both parties was based on a delusion. The social, environmental and economic crises we face require a complete reappraisal of the way we live and work. The failure by mainstream political parties to produce a new and persuasive economic narrative, that does not rely on sustaining impossible levels of growth and generating illusory jobs, provides a marvellous opening for demagogues everywhere.
Governments across the world are making promises they cannot keep. In the absence of a new vision, their failure to materialise will mean only one thing: something or someone must be found to blame. As people become angrier and more alienated; as the complexity and connectivity of global systems becomes ever harder to manage; as institutions like the European Union collapse and as climate change renders parts of the world uninhabitable, forcing hundreds of millions of people from their homes, the net of blame will be cast ever wider.
Eventually the anger that cannot be assuaged through policy will be turned outwards, towards other nations. Faced with a choice of hard truths or easy lies, politicians and their supporters in the media will discover that foreign aggression is among the few options for political survival. I now believe that we will see war between the major powers within my lifetime. Which ones it will involve, and on what apparent cause, remains far from clear. But something that once seemed remote now looks probable to me.
A complete reframing of economic life is needed not “just” to suppress the existential risk that climate change presents (a risk marked by a 20°C anomaly reported in the Arctic Ocean while I was writing this article), but other existential threats as well – including war. Today’s governments, whether they are run by Trump or Obama or May or Merkel, lack the courage and imagination even to open this conversation. It is left to others to conceive of a more plausible vision than trying to magic back the good old days. The task for all those who love this world and fear for our children is to imagine a different future, rather than another past.
NOTE: George Monbiot is a British naturalist and journalist who fights "environmental destruction, undemocratic power, corruption, deception of the public, injustice, inequality and the misallocation of resources, waste, denial, the libertarianism which grants freedom to the powerful at the expense of the powerless, undisclosed interests, complacency." See his personal website, George Monbiot. For his current assessment of the world situation, see Unlucky Number.
'Resistance Is Courage': Author and Climate Warrior
Offers Thoughts on Struggle Ahead
This article was originally published in
Common Dreams, 17 November 2016
under a Creative Commons License
"The eyes of the future are looking back at us and they are praying for us to see beyond
our own time." Terry Tempest Williams ~ Naturalist, Writer, and Environmental Activist
Like many environmentalists grappling with the implications of a Donald Trump presidency, Terry Tempest Williams said she is in "mourning."
But on Thursday, as she and her husband, Brooke Williams, re-asserted their right to preserve federal land won at auction, the acclaimed author and conservationist offered this message of encouragement for the future: "Resistance is our courage."
The Williamses are appealing (pdf) a decision by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which last month revoked oil and gas drilling leases that the couple had purchased at a public land auction in February. The government rejected their claim because the Tempest Exploration Company had "no intention of developing the two leases."
According to the Western Environmental Law Center, which is representing Tempest Exploration, Terry and Brooke "were forthright about their intent to consider developing the leases when science supports sustainable use of the oil and gas, accounting for the costs of climate change to future generations."
"This case shines a light on BLM's fidelity to the oil and gas industry," Williams said Thursday, "while willfully ignoring the urgency—in an era of climate change—of more enlightened management of the public lands that belong to the American people."
But while Williams is waging a public battle against the Obama administration's "misdirected and antiquated approach to fossil fuels," she said she is also confronting the results of last week's presidential election, and what that means for the future of public lands, or even the climate movement as we know it.
In a press statement, Williams, who authored the 2008 book Finding Beauty in a Broken World, shared some "words of reflection on our nation's new challenge following the presidential election and our duty to act to protect that which is most important to us." They follow:
It is morning. I am mourning.
And the river is before me.
I am a writer without words who is struggling to find them.
I am holding the balm of beauty, this river, this desert, so vulnerable, all of us.
I am trying to shape my despair into some form of action, but for now, I am standing on the cold edge of grief.
We are staring at a belligerent rejection of change by our fellow Americans who believe they have voted for change.
The seismic shock of a new political landscape is settling.
For now, I do not feel like unity is what is called for.
Resistance is our courage.
Love will become us.
The land holds us still.
Let us pause and listen and gather our strength with grace and move forward like water in all its manifestation: flat water, white water, rapids and eddies, and flood this country with an integrity of purpose and patience and persistence capable of cracking stone.
I am a writer without words who continues to believe in the vitality of the struggle.
Let us hold each other close and be kind.
Let us gather together and break bread.
Let us trust that what is required of us next will become clear in time.
What has been hidden is now exposed.
This river, this mourning, this moment; may we be brave enough to feel it deeply, and act.
NOTE: Lauren McCauley is a staff writer for Common Dreams. Terry Tempest Williams (b. 1955) is an American author, naturalist, and conservationist. Her work ranges from issues of ecology and wilderness preservation, to women's health, to exploring our relationship to culture and nature.
Solidarity Politics to Resist the Coming Regime
Deborah S. Rogers
This article was originally published in
Common Dreams, 23 November 2016
under a Creative Commons License
Many have issued clarion calls for resistance against the neofascist headed for the White House, his odious henchmen in tow. Few, however, have outlined all the steps needed to block Trump’s repugnant agenda and build a united movement that can upend the power dynamic in this country. Here’s my list: two popular suggestions, and four that take us well outside our comfort zone.
First, we need to have each other’s backs. Yes, I know, many have already said this. Now we need to make it concrete. We need hotlines, safe houses, support groups, and community meetings to share experiences and identify needs. Some will need body guards. We need methods of networking that exclude informants. We need to define a new ethic of intervention in public spaces when we see something that needs to be stopped. We need to exchange information across identity lines so we know what’s happening to others, and can ask for or offer help. We need an early warning system.
Second, we need to resist everything Trump, whether executive, legislative, judicial, national, local, corporate or social. Resistance can’t just be a catchy slogan; we need to actually do what it takes. Block it. Tie it up in court. Do an end run around it. Defund it. Walk out. Strike. Don’t cooperate. Refuse to comply. Gene Sharp, the famous non-violent resistance theorist, has written books on how ordinary people can make it impossible for governments to act against the public interest by withdrawing their consent and cooperation.
We need to get involved in decision-making at every level. By the time a national-level candidate is running, all the important decisions were made long ago. Join (or create) a political party at the local level. Run for mayor, city council, county commissioner or school board. Get involved at the state level – run for office or intervene in meetings of the public utilities commission, water permitting board, or legislative committees. Economic decision-making may be even more important. Join or create a workers’ or consumers’ cooperative. Push to set up a community or state bank. Establish a neighborhood small-scale renewable energy grid. If enough of us get involved at the local level, together we can change the political and economic equation throughout the entire nation.
We need to take back our time and money for political engagement. Public participation used to be commonplace in the US. But now, with worsening economic status and growing material expectations, most of us are working so long and hard that there is virtually no time left for political engagement. The people who can fully engage in politics now are those whose time is paid for as a candidate, consultant, party operative, or within a non-profit. Yet if we depend on corporate wealth and private foundations to make our political engagement possible, we have already lost. The only realistic way for most of us to gain more time is through reduced material consumption and increased collaboration. We need to stop buying excess stuff – donate to independent media or kick-ass political organizing instead! We need to learn how to share jobs, housing, vehicles, entertainment, childcare, eldercare, and all the other things that people think they have to do or enjoy individually. It’s time to break out of the rat race and find time for many more of us to be involved in community, state and national political life.
We need to build bridges with those who think differently from us. The right, despite serving the worst corporate masters, has successfully recruited large numbers of working people who are dissatisfied with the status quo. The Democrats, meanwhile, have abandoned them, while progressives have been unwilling to reach out and establish a dialogue with the white working class in recent years. In low-key conversations, I’ve been repeatedly amazed to find out that my right-leaning neighbors are mad about many of the same economic trends and abuses of power, and wish for many of the same outcomes. Yes, vocal Trump supporters tend to have views that can only be described as hateful. Once you identify common ground, however, you will learn when you can call on them to help fight an important battle. Even more powerful would be organizing to protect their economic survival when Trump throws them under the bus, as he inevitably will. Working toward shared goals can lead to increased tolerance and, eventually, respect. Change is possible.
We need to shift to a politics based on solidarity rather than identity. Wait—don’t we need to take a stand against Trump’s virulently racist, sexist, anti-immigrant and homophobic agenda? Yes. But going along with their divide-and-conquer strategy will only make things worse. We need to focus on building a united front that is strong enough to take on an authoritarian government backed by powerful corporations. If progressives remain Balkanized based on identity and refuse to join forces because of very real, long-standing and legitimate grievances, we are done for. We need to form coalitions, networks, and political parties that unite, not divide. We can take on Trump and address these urgent identity-based grievances in the process, by coming together in solidarity around common agendas. Will there be huge fights about what that common agenda is; what kind of internal decision-making to use; which policies to promote? Of course! It’s incredibly difficult to work through political and social differences. But it’s absolutely essential if we intend to take back power.
A quick fix is neither possible nor desirable in the urgent need to prevent Trump and his ilk from ramming through their devastating agenda. Ultimately, we can succeed only if we unite in solidarity, moving out of the "protest paradigm" and learning to exercise the power we have. Let’s get started now, before it’s too late!
NOTE: Deborah S. Rogers coordinates Initiative for Equality, a global network of activists working to take concrete steps towards social, economic and political empowerment of those who are marginalized. She is also Affiliated Researcher with the Stanford Institute for Research in the Social Sciences. You can contact her through the IfE website.
"It Is In Our Hands" by Nancy Earle, SMIC
Hope is a communal virtue.
Now is the time to be community for each other
- to help carry burdens, to share, to offer hope,
to trust, to love one another.
We are grateful for the gift of life and for all the gifts
of friendship, love, devotion, and forgiveness
that we have shared.
We give thanks for the presence of our loving God -
visible to us in one another, in countless daily gifts,
and in the miracles and wonders of creation.
May we remember to express our gratitude
each day through lives of service,
generosity, kindness, care and compassion.
Ministry of the Arts