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Archive for the ‘ESRA’ Category

The Message and Strategy That Is Needed by Occupy Wall Street


by: on October 18th, 2011 | 3 Comments »

Creative Commons / Adrian Kinloch

This past weekend, Occupy Wall Street demonstrations were held in over 951 cities in 82 countries as people around the globe joined in an international day of solidarity against the greed and corruption of the 1%.

The media, trying to discredit all the demonstrators, say we don’t know what we are for, only what we are against. So I believe there is much to be gained were we to embrace the following 20 second sound bite for “what we are for.”

  • We want to replace a society based on selfishness and materialism with a society based on caring for each other and caring for the planet.
  • We want a new bottom line so that institutions, corporations, government policies, and even personal behavior are judged rational or productive or efficient not only by how much money or power gets generated, but also by how much love and kindness, generosity and caring, environmental and ethical behavior, and how much we are able to respond to the universe with awe, wonder and radical amazement the grandeur and mystery of all Being.
  • To take the first steps, we want to ban all money from elections except that supplied by government on an equal basis to all major candidates, require free and equal time for the candidates and prohibit buying other time or space, and require corporations to get a new corporate charter once every five years which they can only get if they can prove a satisfactory history of environmental and social responsibility to a jury of ordinary citizens. We call this the Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the US Constitution (ESRA).
  • We want to replace the mistaken notion that homeland security can be achieve through a strategy of world domination by our corporations suppoted by the US military and intelligence services with a strategy of generosity and caring for others in the world that will start by launching a Global Marshall Plan that dedicates 1-2% of our GMP ever year for the next twenty to once and for all eliminate global poverty homelessnes, hunger, inadequate education and inadequate health care — knowing that this, not an expanded militarr, is what will give us security.
  • And we want a NEW New Deal that provides a job for everyone who wants to work, jobs that rebuild our environment and our infrastructre, and jobs that allow us to take better care of educating our youth and caring for the aged. That’s what we are for! And you can read more about them at www.spiritualprogressives.org
  • Ok, it was two minutes instead of 20 seconds, but we deserve that amount of time.


Occupy Wall St–It’s Everywhere where Corporate Power Shapes our Lives, So You Can Occupy it in Your Hometown too!


by: on October 6th, 2011 | 3 Comments »

Flickr / Mat DcDermott

The prophet Isaiah stood outside the ancient Israelite Temple and denounced those fasting on Yom Kippur who nevertheless were participating in an immoral society. Said Isaiah (in a statement that is now read in synagogues around the world on Yom Kippur morning though its message mostly ignored when it applies to some Jews’ participation in some of the most exploitative practices of Western capitalism or in support for the current right-wing government of Israel even as it engages in oppression of Palestinians):

Look! On the very day you fast you keep scrabbling for wealth; On the very day you fast you keep oppressing all your workers. Look! You fast in strife and contention. You strike with a wicked fist. You are not fasting today in such a way As to make your voices heard on high. Is that the kind of fast that I desire? Is that really a day for people to “press down their egos”? Am I commanding you to droop your heads like bulrushes And lie around in sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast day, The kind of day that the God of the Burning Bush would wish? No! This is the kind of fast that I desire: Unlock the hand-cuffs put on by wicked power! Untie the ropes of the yoke! Let the oppressed go free, And break off every yoke! Share your bread with the hungry. Bring the poor, the outcasts, to your house.When you see them naked, clothe them; They are your flesh and blood; Don’t hide yourself from them! Then your light will burst through like the dawn; Then when you need healing it will spring up quickly; Then your own righteousness will march ahead to guard you. And a radiance from YHWH will reach out behind to guard you. Then, when you cry out, YHWH will answer; Then, when you call, God will say: “Here I am!” If you banish the yoke from your midst, If you rid yourself of scornful finger-pointing And words of contempt; If you open up your life-experience to the hungry


Corporations Are Not People! Let’s Work Together to Amend the Constitution after Citizens United


by: on August 24th, 2011 | 4 Comments »

Why is the left so weak in this country and the right so strong? There are many reasons for our sad situation, but one of the most important is the monetary advantage held by the right. This is a difficult problem to solve, but one vitally important piece of the solution has to be passing a constitutional amendment to undo the Citizens United decision. Corporations should not be able to pour unlimited money into elections and call it free speech. Corporations are not people, they should not have free speech rights, and money is not speech! That is just common sense.


“We Are One” Worker’s Rights Rally—What Can We Learn From Religious Leaders About Solidarity?


by: on August 9th, 2011 | Comments Off

by Dylan Kaufman-Obstler

“The Church traditionally in the past has been disconnected from the community,” Rev. David Kiteley with the Pastors of Oakland tells me. “We have been taking care of ‘spiritual matters’ and we need to broaden what spiritual matters means… If we isolate ourselves in our religious communities, we are really of no value to society.”

We are at the “We Are One” Workers Rights Rally that was held in Downtown Oakland on Friday, July 22, to demand the better treatment of workers and a more fair economy. I am witnessing the event through the lens of this question: how do we bring a sense of solidarity and mutual support to our activism? This question has been at the forefront of my mind since I started my internship at Tikkun, and I have since experienced first-hand obstacles that social justice organizations face in getting support for their initiatives.

Reverend Kiteley’s words raise an important insight into this question, as he speaks to how the Pastors of Oakland, through their expansion of the notion of “spiritual matters” have challenged this historical relationship and have used their faith as a tool for engagement rather than disconnection. This inclination to act on behalf of others, to stand in solidarity with a community, though not unique to the Pastors of Oakland, is surely an example to emulate.


Have You Heard About the “Manhattan Declaration?”


by: on January 21st, 2011 | 11 Comments »

Rabbi Lerner, in his recent post, alerted readers of Tikkun Daily to two pieces of policy legislation introduced in Congress this week: the Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment and the Global Marshall Plan. Both aim at creating a more caring society.

In direct contrast to the humanitarian agenda of the interfaith Religious Left articulated in those initiatives stands the exclusionary and divisive agenda of the specifically Christian Right, as exemplified by the Manhattan Declaration (2009).


When Generosity, Love, and Kindness are Public Policy, the Violence We Saw in Arizona will Dramatically Diminish


by: on January 19th, 2011 | 6 Comments »

The attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and the murder of so many others in Arizona has elicited a number of policy suggestions, from gun control to private protection for elected officials, to banning incitement to violence on websites either directly or more subtly (e.g., Sarah Palin’s putting a bull’s-eye target on Giffords’ congressional district to indicate how important it would be to remove her from the Congress).

On the other hand, we hear endless pleas to recognize that the assassin was a lonely and disturbed person whose choice of Hitler’s Mein Kampf as one of his favorite books reflects his own troubled soul, not his affinity to the “hatred of the Other” that has manifested in anti-immigrant movements that have spread from Arizona to many other states and in the United States and has taken the form of anti-Islam, discrimination against Latinos, and the more extreme right-wing groups that preach hatred toward Jews.

The problem with this debate is that the explanatory frame is too superficial and seeks to discredit rather than to analyze. I fell into this myself in the immediate aftermath of the murders and attempted assassination. I wrote an op-ed pointing to the right wing’s tendency to use violent language and demean liberals and progressives, and its historical tie to anti-Semitism and anti-feminism. Once I heard that the arrested assassin had a connection to Hitler’s Mein Kampf, I reacted from my own childhood pain at realizing that most of my extended family had been murdered by the Nazis. So I pointed to the current violent language used by the right-wing radio hosts and some of the leaders and activists of the Tea Party, and how their discourse helps shape the consciousness of those in pain and provides them with a target.

But the problem really is much deeper, so I’m sorry I put forward an analysis that was so dominated by my own righteous indignation that it may have obscured a deeper analysis, and mistakenly insinuated that all Arizonans were responsible for the racism in the current policies toward immigrants and that all people on the Right embrace the hate rhetoric of some of their most extremely popular hate addicts like Glenn Beck, or the ignorance of history that led Sarah Palin to label as “blood libel” the criticisms directed at her. Some people even thought that in mentioning that Congresswoman Giffords is Jewish that I was somehow suggesting that I would care less if she were not — so I also apologize for being sloppy enough to allow that interpretation — very far from my intent, since I believe that all people are equally created in God’s image, and for that reason I’ve been an outspoken critic of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians (though also a critic of Hamas’ violence against Israeli civilians).


Save Obama’s presidency by challenging him on the left


by: on December 4th, 2010 | 6 Comments »

Because it involves a suggested electoral strategy for the liberal and progressive forces in the U.S., we at Tikkun cannot endorse Rabbi Lerner’s perspective – we are a 501 c-3 and do not engage in supporting or opposing candidates for office. Still, we thought you might find his perspective of considerable interest, as did the editors of the Washington Post. So we are calling it to your attention and will probably post it at Tikkun.org on Sunday.

You can read his views either in the Washington Post itself on Saturday, or by going here on their web site:

And needless to say, we are very interested in what your reactions are to his ideas, and may even in the Spring issue of Tikkun or on our www.tikkun.org conduct a discussion of it – we are allowed to discuss these things, just not to advocate. So send your reactions straight to him: rabbiLerner@tikkun.org (if you haven’t written him before, you may get a Spam Arrest notice, and all that means is that you have to click where it says to click, then copy some letters that they show you to prove that you are a person and not a machine, and then you’ll never have to do that again to write to him.)

ESRA – Now Available in Spanish


by: on November 30th, 2010 | Comments Off

Dear Tikkunistas,

It is with great pleasure that we bring you the Spanish translation of the Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, or ESRA. Written by Rabbi Michael Lerner and Peter Gabel, and developed in collaboration with the Network of Spiritual Progressives, this Spanish version was translated by José Luis Sanchez (and proofread by me).

We hope this enables more people to get excited about the ideas of the ESRA. Please pass this post or the entire text around to any Latino organization or individual you think might want to get behind it. Also, remember that we are looking for people who can translate the ESRA into Hebrew, Arabic, French, Italian, German, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, and other languages. If you know anyone with these language capabilities who would like to do it, please ask them to contact Rabbi Lerner at rabbilerner@tikkun.org. We are interested in translating other Tikkun articles and NSP materials as well.

Por favor, circule este documento y procure el endoso de consejos municipales, legislaturas estatales, senadores y congresistas federales, partidos políticos y organizaciones cívicas, religiosas y profesionales.

Por favor, firme y endose la Enmienda de Responsabilidad Ambiental y Social (ESRA)a la Constitución de los Estados Unidos.


Organizing to Pass the Free Speech for People Amendment


by: on November 3rd, 2010 | 6 Comments »

As the two year reign of the Prince of Orange (Boehner) begins, my cochlea cringes in anticipation of the bombastic pre-2012 negative advertising Rove has promised to produce beginning November 3rd. We should consider a grassroots effort to amend the Constitution.

Linda Pedro, a friend of mine, led an eight mile pilgrimage through nsow and sleet in her wheelchair

Donna Edwards has proposed a 28th Amendment, titled the Free Speech for People Amendment very much like NSP’s own ESRA (the Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the US Constitution). Perhaps the Network for Spiritual Progressives can help her start a movement!


10 Commandments to Revive Progressives After the November Defeat


by: on November 3rd, 2010 | 3 Comments »

A New York Times map depicting Republican gains (indicated by striped areas) in the House of Representatives

1. Don’t let the media frame this as a defeat of progressives. Had Obama embraced and fought for a progressive agenda, even if he had passed none of it, he would have entered the 2010 elections as the champion of the huge idealism of the American people that was elicited in 2008 and which would have led the Democrats to an electoral sweep in 2010. Being seen as fighting for the needs of ordinary people — never letting anyone forget for a moment that he had inherited the mess that Republican and pro-corporate Democrats had created, positioning himself as the champion of those who resented the Wall Street and corporate interests — his popularity would have grown; he could have won a much bigger victory for the Democrats in 2010, and that would have allowed him to actually legislate the policies of a progressive vision.

Had Obama refused to give more money to the banks and Wall Street unless equal or greater amounts were allocated for a visionary New Deal-style program for jobs and a freeze on mortgage foreclosures; had the Democrats refused to fund the escalation of war in Afghanistan; had they advocated for “Medicare for Everyone” instead of passing a plan that forced 30 million people to buy health care, but puts no serious restraints on the costs that insurance companies or pharmaceutical can charge; had Obama fought courageously for a carbon tax and ended the bargain taxes for the wealthy; had the Democrats insisted on stopping the harassment of immigrants; had the Obama Administration called for a national effort to overturn Citizens United, such as the ESRA (the Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution); had Obama set up public forums at which his supporters could give him public feedback and used the web creatively to allow his supporters to weigh in; and had Obama consistently spoken honestly to Americans about the constraints he was facing and who was putting pressure on him to do what… there would have been no electoral defeat.

It wasn’t the progressive agenda that got defeated, it was the corporate-military accommodation of the Democrats and Obama who couldn’t address popular outrage, not only at the economic problem, but at the way we had been manipulated in 2008; and the humiliation many felt at having allowed themselves to hope that someone in politics would fight for what they said they would fight for.

2. Challenge the elitism in the Left. Whenever you hear someone saying that it is the stupidity or reactionary nature of Americans that led to this defeat, remind them of why, absent any other voice that they would encounter expressing their outrage, it was rational for Americans to be attracted to the right-wing voices that were expressing that outrage (albeit with programs that will actually make things worse). When Americans thought they had a chance at progressive change, they voted for it in 2008 — so they are neither stupid nor reactionary.