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Sharon Delgado
Sharon Delgado
The Reverend Sharon Delgado is an ordained United Methodist minister, executive director of Earth Justice Ministries, and author of “Shaking the Gates of Hell: Faith-Led Resistance to Corporate Globalization” (www.shakingthegatesofhell.org).



Mourning Democracy

Apr2

by: on April 2nd, 2014 | 1 Comment »

Today’s Supreme Court Ruling on McCutcheon vs. the Federal Elections Commission(FEC) is yet another nail in the coffin of U.S. democracy. The high court struck down the right of “We the People” to establish laws limiting overall campaign contributions by individuals. Such limits have been set in an attempt to create a level playing field in our democracy for rich and poor alike.

The political playing field was already unequal, since over the years the Supreme Court has increasingly granted civil rights and constitutional protections to corporations. This expansion of corporate rights culminated in the infamous 2010 ruling in Citizens United vs. the FEC, which prohibits our right to limit corporate spending on elections through political action committees (PACs). The Citizens United decision resulted in the overturning of campaign finance laws at the federal level and in states across the nation. Today’s McCutcheon ruling is also disastrous for democracy.

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Ash Wednesday Worship and Arrests at Beale

Mar5

by: on March 5th, 2014 | Comments Off

Ash Wednesday Arrestees at Beale

Today, on Ash Wednesday, I participated in a deeply meaningful worship service and nonviolent direct action against drones at the gate of Beale Air Force Base. In the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “My body is tired but my soul is rested.” Actions of faith and conscience are good for the soul. You can see KCRA’s coverage here and a video of the arrests here.

The worship service was exquisite. Although today is a Christian holy day and we used traditional Christian symbols in worship, the service was unique in that it was open to and inclusive of people of all faiths and philosophies. It included a prayer in the four directions based on Indigenous spirituality, the World Peace Prayer (from the Hindu religion), and a Hebrew song introduced by Rabbi Seth Castleman. I was reminded of the passover we celebrated in the same spot outside the same Beale gate last year.

Today’s Ash Wednesday service included both personal and national repentance, particularly related to U.S. militarism and drone warfare. We celebrated Holy Communion and used ashes as a sign of repentance and mortality. The “passing of the peace” included some people carrying the message of peace to the TV crew and Beale officers. Several participants told me that it was the most meaningful Ash Wednesday service they had ever attended.

Following the service, five of us, including two other ordained ministers, walked across the boundary line onto base property. We sprinkled ashes that represented the ashes of children killed by U.S. drones. Some of us carried crosses with artistic renditions of some of these children, with their names, ages, and countries of origin.

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Fast Track to Hell

Jan15

by: on January 15th, 2014 | 6 Comments »

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.

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Why We Can’t Wait to Take Action Until Our Kids are Grown

Jan9

by: on January 9th, 2014 | 1 Comment »

Sharon Delgado with a friend at the Nevada Test Site, Good Friday, early 1980s

 

I’ve been a part of conversations lately about whether parents should wait to take action for peace, justice, and the environment until their children are older, or even until they are grown. Although I understand how busy the lives of modern parents can be, I have come to the conclusion that postponing involvement in the great social issues that face humanity is not in the best interests of either parents or children. Caring for our children doesn’t have to shut us down or make our life smaller or keep us from taking a stand or from working to bring about social change. In fact, concern for our children can motivate us to work to solve the very real challenges of our world today.

I first became involved in working for peace when I became aware of some very real threats to my children. It was 1979, and Congress was debating whether to re-institute draft registration. I had preteen and teenage children who would have been required to register when they turned eighteen, and I was totally opposed to that happening (although ultimately it did). I had lived through the Vietnam War, and many of my peers had been drafted. The first social justice meeting I attended was the newly formed Nevada County Anti-Draft Coalition. I was so glad to discover like-minded friends.

I also started learning more about the threat of nuclear war, as the United States competed with the Soviet Union in building more and more nuclear weapons and changed its official nuclear policy from deterrence through Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) to “first strike” or Counterforce. This strategy put nukes in both countries on hair-trigger alert.

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A Corporate Coup

Dec10

by: on December 10th, 2013 | 3 Comments »

Flush the TPP.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) met the week of December 3 in Bali, Indonesia, where anti-WTO demonstrators took over the streets. On the first day of the talks, demonstrations were held around the world to mark the Global Day of Action Against Toxic Trade Agreements. A particular focus for protesters here in the United States and in other Pacific Rim nations was the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, a so-called “free-trade agreement” that would consolidate corporate power over member nations. The TPP has been called “NAFTA on steroids.” It has also been called “a corporate coup” and a “corporate power tool of the 1%.” This week, at the Trans-Pacific Partnership Ministerial in Singapore, where negotiations were to be finalized, TPP negotiators failed to meet the end-of-year deadline promoted by the United States.

Why are the WTO, NAFTA, and free-trade agreements such as the TPP “toxic?” Because they put trade (or rather, the free flow of capital) above all else, because they cover far more than trade, and because they give corporations the power to determine what laws a country can or cannot have. They are vehicles through which corporations make and enforce rules for governments to follow.

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A Call for Climate Justice

Nov21

by: on November 21st, 2013 | Comments Off

People around the world have responded swiftly and generously to the devastation in the Philippines caused by Typhoon Haiyan, the largest storm ever recorded. In the wake of this disaster, it is important for us to go beyond simple relief efforts. We must heed the warnings of climate scientists who point to present disasters and future dangers, including sea level rise and increasingly deadly storms linked to climate change.

In November, 2013, in the wake of Typhoon Haiyan, leaders from more than 190 nations met in Warsaw, Poland, for the latest round of United Nations climate negotiations (the 19th Conference of the Parties, or COP 19). Yeb Sano, the lead negotiator from the Philippines, broke down in tears, made a powerful and emotional appeal for bold action, and pledged to fast for the duration of the talks unless commissioners come to a substantial agreement addressing climate change.

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November Tomatoes and Climate Change

Nov13

by: on November 13th, 2013 | Comments Off


November Tomatoes in the Sierra

It’s mid-November, and our plants are still bearing red tomatoes. The days are warm, it doesn’t freeze at night, and it hasn’t rained. Maybe when we lived in Santa Cruz we still had tomatoes in November, but in the Sierra Nevada? It should be raining or snowing here.

Over 50% of the United States is in the second year of drought. Here in California, this is the driest year ever recorded.

According to California’s Department of Environmental Protection, climate change is impacting California through hotter temperatures, shrinking snowpack, more frequent and intense wildfires, warmer lakes and oceans, and rising sea levels. And have you noticed? Food prices are higher, as the USDA predicted they would be because of last year’s drought.

It seems that this year’s November tomatoes are a consolation prize of climate change. If anything, these tomatoes are even tastier and sweeter than mid-summer tomatoes. But my pleasure in eating them is tempered by the awareness of where we are headed with climate change, and of the suffering of many people for whom the devastation of climate change is already a reality.

Hurricane Haiyan, the most powerful storm ever recorded, hit the Philippines last week, wreaking havoc. In U.S. news coverage, climate change is hardly mentioned, in spite of the fact that delegates from more than 190 nations are meeting in Warsaw this week for the latest round of United Nations climate negotiations.Yeb Sano, the lead negotiator from the Philippines, broke down in tears, made a powerful and emotional appeal for bold action, and pledged to fast for the duration of the talks unless commissioners come to a substantial agreement addressing climate change.

Not only does climate change threaten the civilization of which I have been a beneficiary, it threatens the life support system upon which we all depend. These November tomatoes are a symbol to me of the sweetness of the gifts of the earth, but in a darkening time, a time of deadly threat, a time of loss.

I want my grandchildren and future generations to experience the sweetness that I have experienced in life. I’m convinced that it will take hard work and sacrifice on the part of many people to change the system that has brought us to this extremity. I pray that we will join together and rise to the challenge.

Meanwhile, the taste of November tomatoes reminds me to live my faith– to live in the moment, face reality, refuse to be in denial, practice prayer, enjoy the fruits of the Spirit, renounce fear, trust in the Love that undergirds the universe, and follow wherever that Love leads.

For Sharon Delgado’s previous postings about climate change, go to blog postings on climate change.

Beale Anti-Drone Protestors Sentenced to Community Service

Sep9

by: on September 9th, 2013 | 4 Comments »

Beale Anti-Drone Protestors

My four friends and I were sentenced today to ten hours each of community service by the judge who convicted us last month of trespassing onto Beale Air Force Base during an anti-drone protest. Judge Carolyn K. Delaney in U.S. District Court in Sacramento acknowledged that we were motivated by conscience and by “deeply held ethical and religious beliefs.” We were delighted with the light sentence, which sets a precedent for other protesters. The judge could have imposed up to six months in jail, a $5,000 fine, and/or five years probation.

Shirley Osgood, Janie Kesselman, David and Jan Hartsough and I had engaged in civil disobedience by crossing a line onto Beale Air Force Base last October during a demonstration against the U.S. drone warfare program. Global Hawk surveillance drones, based at Beale, assist in finding targets for weaponized drones. Here is the statement I made in court today:

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Guilty Verdict No Surprise in Beale Anti-Drone Case

Aug26

by: on August 26th, 2013 | 5 Comments »

It was no surprise that at our trial on August 12 my fellow defendants and I were found guilty of trespassing onto federal property at Beale. The judge had ruled against our request for a jury trial, and against both the necessity defense and consideration of the Nuremberg Principles during the trial. In the necessity defense, our lawyers would have argued that we stood our ground at Beale with our “Stop Drone Attacks” banner in an attempt to prevent a greater harm, namely drone attacks. In appealing to Nuremberg Principles, they would have based their argument on the Nuremberg Code, enacted after World War II to try Nazi war criminals. Principle VII states “Complicity in the commission of a crime against peace, a war crime, or a crime against humanity…is a crime under international law.”

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Agenda 21 vs. the TPP

Jul18

by: on July 18th, 2013 | 1 Comment »

A new wave of reaction to Agenda 21 threatens to confound the public and undermine efforts toward global cooperation on both environment and development. Meanwhile, those who raise the alarm about Agenda 21, a non-binding agreement, are silent about negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a binding agreement that would grant corporations new rights to interfere with our democracy.

Agenda 21

I was part of the United Methodist delegation to Rio de Janeiro in 1992, during the historic United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, or “Earth Summit,” where Agenda 21 was signed. The agreement was negotiated openly in advance, with input from governments, corporations, and civil society. Its purpose was to suggest principles, policies, and guidelines that could help the nations of the world move cooperatively into the 21st century (hence the name) in ways that could both protect the earth and raise poor nations out of poverty.

Agenda 21 is not a treaty, so it was not ratified by the Senate. It does not have the force of law. It is non-binding, to be enacted voluntarily as governments see fit. Some jurisdictions in various countries, including the United States, have enacted policies based on Agenda 21′s suggested principles, such as protecting biodiversity, controlling pollution, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the progression of global warming, combating poverty, strengthening the role of marginalized groups, etc. Agenda 21 does not infringe upon national, state, or local sovereignty. Its goal is not to abolish private property or take away our freedoms or create an “eco-dictatorship,” regardless of what Glen Beck or Fox News have to say.

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