Saturday, July 22, 2006

The House that You Live In

One of the big stories in the Harbor concerns the fish smells generated by Ocean Protein fish meal plant. Folks in the neighborhood adjoining the facility have been complaining since last year (when the plant opened). A local judge recently ordered the company to shut down the plant.

You can go to the link provided above to read about the sordid details. My concern centers on many of the comments in the Letters to the Editor section. A recurring theme is that people who live in said neighborhood -- which is in an industrial area -- shouldn't complain because, if you buy a house in such an area, you should expect to put up with pollution, noise and the traffic problems caused by big trucks.

What troubles me is the fact that I'm sure most of the people who live in this particular neighborhood didn't have very many choices when it came time to purchase their small slice of the American Dream. You see, when you're poor, about the only houses you can afford are in the least desirable locations. Consequently, I'm sure that few of the families that live in this neighborhood specifically chose it over other homes in more attractive environs.

The other factor that seems to be flying over most people's heads is that situations like these often are the result of poor land use planning. Why, in the first place, is there a residential neighborhood nestled within an industrial zone? Shouldn't there be some type of zoning buffer?

The easy answer is that, of course, a residential neighborhood shouldn't be situated within a stone's throw of an industrial area. Unfortunately, the people of the Harbor seem altogether oblivious to the very concept of land use planning.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Let Peace Begin with Me!

Amidst all the news reports of the continuing and growing violence that grips the Middle East, a song I learned in 5th grade chorus keeps popping into my head.
Copyrighted Lyrics for “Let There Be Peace on Earth
By Jill Jackson and Sy Miller

Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me;
Let there be peace on earth,
The peace that was meant to be.

With God as our Father
Brothers all are we,
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony.*

Let peace begin with me,
Let this be the moment now;
With every step I take,
Let this be my solemn vow:

To take each moment and live each moment
In peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.

*Copyrighted alternate lyric:

With God our Creator
(His) Children all are we,
Let us walk with each other
In perfect harmony

Copyright 1955 by Jan-Lee Music. Copyright renewed 1983. All rights reserved.

Note: If in your venue you do not choose to use the word “God,” you may use the phrase, “With Earth as our Mother, her children all are we.”
Yes, it's simplistic. Yes, it's a bit pollyanna. And yet, there is a universal truth in its simplicity. Wars can't be fought if no one strikes back!

Aggression -- whether you start it or I respond to it -- is the key. This is one of the central ideas behind the martial arts, how to turn someone's aggression onto itself to negate it. It is also a key element in the philosophy of pacificism. One person's aggression does not cause an aggressive response.

If nothing else, it's something to think about...particularly today.

Let peace begin with each of us.

Monday, July 3, 2006

The Ten Key Values

As I've mentioned before, I haven't had a lot of time to blog as of late because of my involvement with the Green Party. One or two of my regular readers recently asked what the Green Party is all about. The easiest way to answer that question is to list the 10 Key Values shared by Greens the world over. (If Taoists had a political party, I think we'd list similar values.)

Respect for Diversity
We honor the biological diversity of the Earth and the cultural, racial, sexual and spiritual diversity of its people. We respect the dignity of all individuals, and their right to access and fully participate in all aspects of our society.

Feminism and Gender Equity
We are committed to gender equity in all aspects of our society. We wish to replace top-down domination with cooperation, compassion, communication and understanding.

Social Justice
We oppose systemic global injustice and poverty. All oppression including that based on race, class, gender, age, citizenship or sexual orientation must end.

Grassroots Democracy
The influence of big business and big government combined is undermining genuine democracy. To help overcome this, we promote public participation at all levels of government. We believe that electoral systems need reform to enable full and more equitable access by all people.

Violence is shortsighted, morally wrong and ultimately self-defeating. We must develop effective alternatives to society's current patterns of violence. We will work globally to demilitarize, and eliminate weapons of mass destruction.

Ecological Wisdom
We support a sustainable society that utilizes resources in such a way that future generations will benefit from the practices of our generation. We seek to protect ecological diversity and balance.

Decision-making in our social, political, and economic institutions should reside at the individual and local levels, consistent with ecological sustainability, civil rights, and social justice.

Community-Based Economics
We seek a new economics based on global ecological sustainability, livable wages, sufficient social safety nets, and democratically accountable businesses. Balanced local economies create more equitable and stable communities.

Personal & Global Responsibility
We seek to join with people and organizations around the world to foster peace, economic justice, and the health of our planet. We take personal responsibility in upholding our values.

Future Focus
As did the Iroquois, we strive to create a society where the interests of the Seventh Generation are considered equal to the interests of the present.

To learn more, here are a few links: