Awakening a Sleeping Giant

Sign at Occupy Wall Street .

Sign at Occupy Wall Street .

Update, June 13:   Fast Track was defeated in the House of Representatives… for now.  We can do this if we are in the struggle for the long haul.  Success!

My dear friends,

If you ever plan to participate in decisions made by so-called “leaders” on your behalf, today is the day to do it.  The Senate already passed “Fast Track” trade negotiating authority, and it is scheduled to be voted on in the House of Representatives today.  If passed, it will be much harder to stop upcoming free trade agreements, which increase corporate rights and make it harder to protect public health, communities, human rights, and the earth itself.

Go to Credo Action for the phone number for you to call your congressional representative.  Simply tell whoever answers that you urge your representative to vote “no” on Fast Track.

If you want to know more about this, see my blog on Fast Track to Hell, which spells out what’s so bad about the upcoming Trans Pacific Partnership, the first in a series of very bad agreements that don’t just deal with trade.  You can also watch the video presentation that I gave with Emanuel Sferios on Toxic Trade Agreements and the TPP.  Finally, the book that I wrote, Shaking the Gates of Hell,  is about the process of “corporate globalization,” in which transnational corporations write and promote these corporate bills of rights in their quest to consolidate global corporate rule.

There are many among the 1% who would benefit materially from increased corporate profits, but so many more among the general population who would be harmed.  Fortunately, more and more people are awakening to the extent of the damage being done by these misguided policies, and realizing that only “the power of the people” can stop them.  Even if Fast Track passes, the struggle will go on.  As the sign says, “The 1% has awakened a sleeping giant and filled us with great resolve.” Join us!

As I wrote in Fast Track to Hell:   “We don’t need to leave these decisions to government “leaders” who are blinded by allegiance to their corporate sponsors.  The fact is, we who can see what is at stake are the only ones who can stop this fast track to hell.  I trust that God and all the powers of the living earth are with us in this struggle.”

Follow Sharon’s blog by clicking the “Follow Sharon Delgado” button at the right or by “liking” the Shaking the Gates of Hell Facebook page.

Do We Have the Wisdom to Survive?

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Fires are burning week after week again this year here in the West.   The smoky skies aggravate asthma, give people headaches, burn people’s eyes, and make people grouchy.  We are warned to stay indoors due to unsafe levels of particulates.  As climate change continues to accelerate, other people in other places are also experiencing record-setting fires, heat waves, droughts,  floods, and other extreme weather events.

Do we have the wisdom to survive?  Will humanity rise to the challenge presented by climate change?  Will we change our ways of thinking and acting, will we transform our institutions and systems, in time to prevent climate chaos?  This question is always with me, even as I gather my grandchildren close to me and play and laugh and learn with them.  What will this overheating planet be like for them in twenty or forty or sixty years?

I do have hope.  I am grateful to be part of a world-wide community of people who are aware of what is at stake with the earth’s changing climate and who are willing to take action.  Tomorrow, the largest People’s Climate March in history will be held in New York, as world leaders gather in New York to discuss the climate crisis.  There will be solidarity demonstrations around the world, including here in Nevada City (meet at the Nevada City Vets Hall, 415 N. Pine, at 4 p.m.).  I hope that everyone who can come out will come out.  The time is now.

Or, if you aren’t convinced about climate change or have given up because you don’t think there is anything you can do, come tomorrow night to see the film “Wisdom to Survive” at 7 p.m. at the Nevada City United Methodist Church.  Here is the blurb I wrote for Old Dog Documentaries to help get the word out about the film:

Wisdom to Survive:  Climate Change, Capitalism, and Community is an exquisitely filmed documentary that presents an overview of the climate crisis, including its causes, effects, and directions of hope.  Poignant scenes illustrate the sacred beauty of the natural world, the tragedy of its diminishment, and our human interconnectedness with the rest of creation.

“The film unflinchingly names global free-market capitalism as the system that underlies the current plunder, with scenes of massive technological resource extraction causing industrial devastation.  Indigenous leaders, people from poor and vulnerable nations, scientists, scholars, religious leaders, activists, farmers, and poets make the case for “climate justice” and point in the direction of hope.

“Do we have the wisdom to survive?  The answer is related to community.   We are connected by our shared grief at what is happening to the earth and by our shared hope and commitment to the future.”

I hope you will join us here in Nevada City or at a Peoples’ Climate Rally near you.  This is not the time to give up, but the time to rise up and recommit ourselves to the earth and to the future.  Surely God is with us in this struggle.

One day our children and grandchildren will ask us what we were doing when there was still time to prevent the worst of climate change.  What will your answer be?

wisdom to survive

In Gaza:  Where is God?

 Child in Gaza

As the Israeli army’s wholesale killing of civilians trapped in Gaza continues, the question arises:  where is God?  Is God looking on “from a distance,” impassive and unconcerned?  Worse yet, is it God’s will, this collective punishment of the Palestinian people?  Does God side with those who dominate through massive force and military might?

Not at all.  God suffers the torments being inflicted on the Palestinians and on all who are tortured, abused, and forsaken by the Powers that rule this world.  This is the deeper meaning of the cross.

In Elie Wiesel’s book, Night, he describes a scene in a Nazi concentration camp, where a child is being executed by hanging.  The suffering goes on and on, and the prisoners are forced to watch.  Wiesel writes:  “Behind me, I heard [a man] asking:  ‘For God’s sake, where is God?’  And from within me, I heard a voice answer: ‘Where He is? This is where–hanging here from this gallows…’”  It is God who suffers the torments of human injustice, the God who is Love.

In Experiences of God, Jürgen Moltmann describes how he came to know the God who suffers with humanity, in an Allied prison camp as a young German prisoner of war during World War II.  He had been raised and indoctrinated during the Nazi era and was devastated to learn of his country’s crimes against humanity.  Despairing and alone, reading a copy of the New Testament and Psalms, he came to experience the presence of God in the midst of his suffering.

Popular Christianity sometimes ignores this deeper meaning of the cross—as if the crucifixion of Jesus was simply a transaction between God and sinners that God cooked up because there was no other way to set things right.  This is nonsense.  Of course, through Jesus’ death and resurrection people who follow him find forgiveness, grace, new life, and empowerment.  But the common deterministic perspective ignores the whole political, social, economic, and military context in which Jesus’ death took place.  There are many ways to understand Jesus’ death, including the way Jesus explained it in the Parable of the Wicked Tenants.  Read more about this in my blog post:  The Scandal of the Cross.

When we consider Jesus crucified and hanging on the cross, those who love him see God there, in solidarity with suffering humanity.  “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows (Isaiah 53:4).”  Those who are attuned to a God of Love experience God in the midst of the pain.

Where is God in the midst of the slaughter taking place in Gaza?  Look into the eyes of a terrorized child.  God is there.

God is also in the prayers and determination of people of conscience, of every philosophy and faith, to stand in solidarity with those who are oppressed and to rise up nonviolently on their behalf.   We can still hold out hope for new life, hope for the future.  Like Moltmann, who went on to write The Crucified God and Theology of Hope, we can point toward the healing and reconciliation of both oppressor and oppressed, and toward mutual liberation.

God is here.

 

Fast Track to Hell

no fast track tpp

Last week a bill was introduced in Congress that would give Fast Track Authority to the Obama Administration in order to grease the wheels to passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (or TPP), a monstrous trade agreement that twelve Pacific Rim nations, including the United States, have been negotiating secretly for four years.  This week is crucial in  defeating Fast Track, in order to give more time for the public and for members of Congress to learn about the far-reaching and deadly provisions contained in this pact.

The TPP, if passed, will impact every aspect of our lives, and will be the final undoing of democracy itself.  Fast track, if passed, will be a fast track to hell.

First, the TPP will restrict the ability of our government (and the governments of all member nations) in making and enforcing laws of every kind.  This will include laws related to:  consumer safety, product labeling (such as GMOs), worker’s rights, preferential purchasing (such as “buy local” or “made in the USA”), environmental protections, local sovereignty, organic standards, rights of family farms, restrictions on privatizing public services or community resources, and any other law that may interfere with corporate profits.

Second, the TPP will require governments to adopt laws that will increase corporate profits, as specified in the agreement itself.  For instance, it will greatly extend patent and copyright protections for corporations.  This will ensure greater corporate profits, for instance, for drug manufacturers, while making it more difficult and expensive for people in member nations to buy generic drugs.  For the poor this may mean death.  The TPP will threaten Internet freedom in many ways.  For instance,  “temporary copies” downloaded from the Internet (essentially any computer downloads) will have copyright protection, and violations of copyright laws will be subject to both civil and (depending on the scale) criminal sanctions.

These are just a  few of the thousands of regulations being negotiated behind the scenes by corporate CEOs and government representatives with security clearance.  By restricting our government’s law-making ability and by requiring our government to pass certain laws, the TPP threatens democracy itself.

If passed, corporations will be able to file disputes through the TPP, challenging specific laws.  A tribunal will rule on whether these laws can stand or whether they are “barriers to trade.”  These tribunals have binding authority and can institute sanctions if we don’t comply.  But no worries–the official policy of the US government is to comply with all such rulings, and to change any offending laws.  Besides, the United States, on behalf of US-based corporations, is pushing this agreement,  despite the fact that it is bad for people, for communities, and for the earth.

In fact, the TPP is so bad that the only way to get it passed is to rush it through via Fast Track.  If the US public becomes aware of the deadly details of this agreement, opposition will continue to grow and support will vanish.  Opposition to Fast Track is growing.  One example is the City of Los Angeles, which has passed a resolution opposing Fast Track Authority.

The official promotion of this trade agreement and Fast Track is an example of the flawed global economic system, which currently runs as a giant Ponzi scheme.  If the TPP is enacted, it will take us even more quickly down the road toward a living hell on earth that I describe in my book, Shaking the Gates of Hell:  Faith-Led Resistance to Corporate Globalization.  It will take political power even more completely out of the hands of the people, and deliver it to for-profit corporations.

This will speed up the process that is already well underway:  of consolidating corporate power and converting human labor, communities, humanity’s common heritage, and the gifts of the earth into profits that show up as digits on a computer screen, to be electronically traded, used for speculation, and finally cashed out by the wealthy few economic “winners.”  Meanwhile, the number of losers and the extent of our social and environmental losses will continue to grow, as long as vampire corporations continue to make rules that enable them to suck the life blood out of people and the earth.

This can’t last.  We are quickly heading toward a social, economic, and ecological train wreck.  Our children’s and grandchildren’s lives are being quickly diminished as we speak.  The TPP would only speed up the process.

Fortunately, we don’t need to leave these decisions to government “leaders” who are blinded by allegiance to their corporate sponsors.  The fact is, we who can see what is at stake are the only ones who can stop this fast track to hell.  I trust that God and all the powers of the living earth are with us in this struggle.

Learn more!  Watch this video in which Emanuel Sferios and I explain “Toxic Trade Agreements and the TPP.”     Sign a simple petition opposing fast track.  Learn more and stay updated  through Flush the TPP  and Public Citizen .  Help us defeat this disastrous trade bill.

In Court for Anti-Drone Action

drones make enemies

I appeared in federal court again yesterday for engaging in civil disobedience with four others during an anti-drone action at Beale Air Force Base last October.  This time we were in court  facing Judge Katherine K. Delaney in order to set a new trial date.  This is no small effort, since so many people will need to be there for the trial:  government prosecutors, witnesses from the base, five defendants (including me), and five defense lawyers, one for each of us.  It took some juggling of schedules to arrive at a date that would work for all of us.

The date finally agreed upon is August 12.  Several motions will be filed before then, by both the defense and the prosecution.

A prosecutor stated that he will put forth a motion to bar “the necessity defense.”  If the judge rules in his favor on this motion, it will be more difficult for us to build the case that we risked arrest because it was necessary in order to prevent a greater harm (that is, the deaths of thousands in drone strikes).

Our defense lawyers plan to request a jury trial.  The judge could agree to this, but since our charge, misdemeanor trespass, carries a penalty of no more than six months of jail time, she is under no obligation to do so.  Our lawyers are also hoping to call expert witnesses to testify about the threat posed by drones.  We were heartened to hear that on April 24th, the judge in the Transform Now Plowshares case allowed expert testimony from former Attorney General Ramsey Clark.  Read the remarkable transcript of his testimony here.

It seems to me that people are waking up to the reality that there’s something cowardly, inhuman, and just plain wrong with illegal targeted assassinations by remote-control killer drones.  U.S. drones have killed thousands of people, mostly civilians, including hundreds of children. We are creating enemies, making our world less secure.  Over fifty countries now have drones.  If we use drones for targeted killings, other countries will be emboldened to follow our example and use them, too.

I trust that the tide of public opinion is turning against support for the U.S. drone warfare program.  I’m grateful for the opportunity to be a small wave in the larger ocean, filled with wave upon wave of people working together to change the direction of the tide.

Courtrooms can be boring, dry, and depressing, but as I sat in court yesterday, I experienced the presence of God.  We have no idea what God can do when we take a stand for justice, big or small.  As I sat there in the courtroom there was no place I would rather be.