There’s no question in my mind that the overwhelming majority of people everywhere would like nothing more than to live in a world where they can have the possibility of attending to what matters to them, caring and providing for their families, having meaningful relationships with others, and having a baseline of decency and dignity in human affairs.
Whether or not such a world is possible, and what could get us there are not as clear. Far too many of us have been led to believe that such a world can never be because of human nature which is purported to be selfish, greedy, or innately aggressive. Some of us have also, or instead, been led to believe that the only way to get to a beautiful future is to eliminate every last one of the “bad guys.” The sad irony of both of these worldviews is that they perpetuate the difficulties we are facing. If everyone is selfish and no one will care about us, then the only logical solution is for us to put all our efforts into promoting our own needs, or, at the very least, becoming resigned and apathetic. Similarly, if we must kill and punish the “bad guys,” then in the act we become like them.
What’s the alternative? Many of us like to believe that individual transformation, if enough people engage in it, is enough. Others believe that if those in positions of power are reached, either through their own transformation or through mass nonviolent resistance, then change will take place. Despite the elegant appeal of these approaches, I don’t quite see how any of them will bring about structural change. I wish I knew what would, and I don’t, like so many others. All I know is that collaboration is essential, both now and in any future, and hence my own joy in having found my own steps on the uncertain road to the future.
by: Tikkun on November 14th, 2014 | No Comments »
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We’re charging forward with our Fall Fundraising Drive, only $90 away from hitting $2,000. Will you be the generous reader who tips us over the $2,000 mark? Donate now!
If small monthly contributions are more manageable, we have set up that option on the donation page. In the world of $5 lattes ($7 if you want a large with soy milk), we’re asking our readers to honestly gauge their capabilities. Can you sacrifice that latte once, maybe twice, a month – and instead put $10 away each month toward making a better world? We at Tikkun are confident in our abilities to make big changes, and for good reason.
Recently, we drew national attention and recognition for the amazing quality of the print edition of Tikkun. The Religion Newswriters Association granted us with the 2014 award of “Magazine of the Year: Overall Excellence in Religion Coverage”.
We have reported on the exciting new frameworks and projects that could lead us toward opening our borders, ending deportation, ending mass incarceration, ending predatory cycles of debt, and rethinking the relation between identity politics and class struggle. And we’ve opened readers’ eyes to some radical ideas and interfaith discussions about God (not the “big man in heaven”). Our publisher (Duke University Press) doesn’t allow us to share the full versions of these articles freely online, so to get them you have to sign up for a print or online subscription (which is free with membership in the NSP).
With that, we leave you with a testimonial from one of our devoted readers, Charley Lerrigo.
by: Aryeh Cohen on November 13th, 2014 | 1 Comment »
Credit: Creative Commons/ Brave New Films
One of the earliest recorded labor actions occurred in Biblical Egypt. Moses demanded that Pharaoh let the Israelites slaves go into the desert to worship their God. Moses, in other words, demanded that Pharaoh treat the Israelites as people with spiritual and physical needs, rather than as construction machines useful for the raising of royal cities and monuments.
Pharaoh, as many a tyrant after him, refused to see the Israelites as full people worthy of respect and dignity. The only thing he could see was that they were “shirkers” who didn’t want to do a good day’s work. Pharaoh never dreamed that a rag tag people with a leader who stuttered and claimed to be speaking for an invisible God would ever be a threat to his rule and his country.
We all know how that turned out.
Nonviolent direct action has two goals. The first one, as my friend and teacher, and fellow CLUE-LA board member Jim Conn has said, is to turn the tables on the powerful. When the oppressed stop cooperating in a system of oppression, and start demanding dignity, respect, and just compensation, the system grinds to a halt. The only way to restart it is for the “powerful” to compromise, or accede to the “weak.”
Today is Veteran’s Day. I should be feeling proud and patriotic, but I’m not. Does that make me a bad American? Perhaps I should “go back to my own country” as someone calmly told me the other day. Except, I’m already in my own country, I’m proud and happy to be American, and my identity as American-Muslim is all the more stronger and faithful because of the hyphen. So what gives? Why can’t I explain Veteran’s Day to my children without feeling a bit uncomfortable?
U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno accompanies former mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg and other city officials during the Veterans Day Parade in New York City on Nov. 11, 2011. Credit: Creative Commons/ The U.S. Army
On Veterans Day, we pause in remembrance of those who have proudly served our country in the U.S. military. Originally known as “Armistice Day,” November 11 was chosen to annually memorialize the cessation of hostilities between the Allied powers and Germany ending World War I, which was then regarded as “the war to end all wars.”
In November 1919, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the first commemoration of what would become an official national holiday with the words:
“To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…”
Individuals and groups who stand up and put their lives on the line to defend the country from very real threats to our national security, as do those in our nation’s military, are true patriots. But true patriots are also those who speak out, stand up, and challenge our governmental leaders, those who put their lives on the line by actively advocating for justice, freedom, and liberty through peaceful means.
by: Aryeh Cohen on November 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
In many Jewish communities in the United States, Mitzvah Day is celebrated annually. Mitzvah (literally: commandment, colloquially: a good deed) Day is a day on which Jewish communities come together to perform all manners of community service. Atlanta’s Mitzvah day announces that it contributed 570 hours of service by 190 volunteers at ten project sites. At Temple Emmanuel in New York City people made totes for women undergoing chemotherapy, sandwiches and 300 meal bags to combat hunger, and baked fresh cookies which were packaged with organic milk boxes for children at the local day-care and after-school programs. In Los Angeles, (which seems to have been the originator of the concept) Mitzvah Day outgrew the Jewish community and was adopted by the whole city as Big Sunday.
All the Mitzvah Day projects seem to be well-attended and worthwhile (at least the ones I’ve seen). However, I want to suggest that the vision of Mitzvah Day is too narrow. There are some commandments which are not included in any Mitzvah Day or Big Sunday I’ve seen. These are the commandments to protest against injustice and to treat workers fairly. Therefore, I would like to think that this Thursday (November 13) in front of the Walmart in Pico Rivera, California will be Mitzvah Day 2.0. Workers, clergy, and community members will be protesting against Walmart’s mistreatment of its workers and demand that Walmart pay its employees at least fifteen dollars an hour, and that they have access to full time employment.
by: Brittany M. Powell on November 10th, 2014 | No Comments »
Credit: Brittany M. Powell
Crossposted from The Bold Italic
In 2012, after struggling with a significant loss of income from my photography business following the 2008 economic decline, my debt skyrocketed, and I made the difficult decision to file for bankruptcy. This inspired my interest in investigating how debt affects our identities and how we relate to the world. Debt is publicly enforced and highly stigmatized but is almost always privately experienced. It is in many ways an abstract form without material weight or structure, yet it has a heavy physicality and is a burden in a person’s everyday life.
The Debt Project is a photographic and multimedia exploration into the role that debt plays in our personal identities and social structures. I began the projectby asking subjects to sit for a formal portrait in their homes, surrounded by their belongings, in a way that’s reminiscent of the early Flemish portrait-painting tradition, and answer a series of questions on camera about their debt. I also asked them to handwrite the amount of debt they are in and tell the story behind it.
To see more of Brittany M. Powell’s photos, visit the Tikkun Daily Art Gallery.
Credit: Creative Commons/MMSC10
I believe one of the litmus tests by which a society can be judged is the ways it treats its young people, for this opens a window projecting how that society operates generally.
Adultism, as defined by John Bell includes “behaviors and attitudes based on the assumption that adults are better than young people, and entitled to act upon young people without their agreement. This mistreatment is reinforced by social institutions, laws, customs, and attitudes.” Within an adultist society, adults construct the rules, with little or no input from youth, which they force young people to follow.
by: Tikkun on November 6th, 2014 | No Comments »
As you know, the fundraising drive is heating up and we are getting closer to our $5,000 goal. The “Hour for Our Campaign” asks that you donate the equivalent of what you earn or charge an hour per month to the NSP as a bold statement that you want to build OUR world – a world based on a New Bottom Line.
The average american works more than 160 hours a month. Would you be willing to put one of those hours toward building our better world? To succeed, we need your financial support and involvement – we need each other, we cannot build this world unless we do so together. We hope you will join us.
As part of our campaign and in hopes to double our membership, we ask that when you join (or if you’ve already joined) that you ask 2 friends to join this campaign as well and ask them to ask two friends, and so on and so on! Through this effort, we will easily meet and ideally exceed our goal of doubling our membership. Won’t you join us with one hour to help build our world?
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And if you need another reason to support us, here is one more thing Tikkun is doing to help change the world: organized conference calls.
These can be costly and time-consuming–after Skype failed us during one call, a valiant Cat Zavis continued the international conference on her cell phone, which isn’t the cheapest method–BUT we are dedicated to our cause and letting peoples’ voices be heard, and we want to continue bringing you quality conversations that are free for you to listen to and even join.
So please consider clicking here to donate (donations are tax-deductible since we are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit).
Here’s the note a friend sent me on Facebook late last night:
Arlene, now that the midterm results are in, how can the dreams/predictions that you make in your recent books The Wave and The Culture of Possibility come to fruition? How can Citizens United be overturned and democracy be given back to the people?
My dear friend, what a good question! I am sorry for the suffering it reveals, suffering that is widely shared this morning. I woke up with five possible answers jostling their ways out of my brain. I hope one or two of them may help.
1. I never make predictions, but I do write and speak about possibilities. As sad as many of the election results turned out to be, no single phenomenon (such as a seven-seat gain in a midterm election) forecloses possibility. Indeed, the very same information can be given two opposing meanings, depending on what else happens. We know that when a paradigm shifts – when an outdated worldview begins to be edged offstage by a new and more powerful understanding – those who benefit most from the old order tighten their grip. How many times in history have we seen such darkness before something new dawns?
A friend who works closely with elections told me last night that given which seats are up for re-election in 2016, it’s almost a certainty that Democrats will regain the Senate then. That’s his prediction (I don’t make them, remember?). But if two years down the road everyone who is crying this morning wakes up in a celebratory mood, will the nature of reality have shifted? Or just our ideas about it?