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Skip to main content. Log In Sign Up. The Better World Handbook - 2nd Edition. Ellis Jones. Ross Haenfler. What an incredible resource!
Some, such as installing a low-flow showerhead or setting up an account at a socially responsible bank, you only have to do once. Others, such as downloading less stuff, will actually save you time that you would other- wise spend in traffic, in lines, and on working to pay for the stuff you bought.
In fact, we expect you to find that living out your values and engaging in meaningful daily action actually gives you energy! Trap 7: Many people stereotype individuals committed to social change as people who have put aside families, convenience, and pleasure for a cause they deem to be of greater impor- tance. This book is not about giving up your whole life for a cause, nor is it about good deeds that you do twice a year when you finally get all of your chores done.
It is about living a life full of passion and power — one that will enrich you and the world around you. The goal is not to live the perfect life but to make improvements in your life so that your actions are increasingly in line with your values. Committing yourself to making a difference can be fulfilling, meaningful and fun.
Rather than being a sacrifice, working for a better world can help you create a deep happiness beyond your imagination. Once you have committed to living out your values, the next step is to learn about and take the most practical, effective actions available to bring about the better world you envision. Trap 8: Make an effort to get quali- ty information about the world so that your actions will actually be effective see the MEDIA chapter for tips.
At times you will just know in your heart which actions you should take. In our ever-changing world there will always be more to know, but taking action can actually help inform you about the issues you care about.
When you become involved, it connects you with others who care about the same issues and creates numerous opportunities for learning. This book provides you with plenty of information to get started, and you can seek out further information as you get inspired.
Trap 9: You have probably already taken some of the actions in this book. Go ahead and check them off. Maybe pick an area in your life where you are already taking some actions. Then work up to actions that will be more challenging.
Or start with the action that would be the most fun, the one you could do with a friend, or one that will give you the most fulfillment. Throughout the book, we suggest that you focus your energies.
Identify actions that are important to you and that are realistic for you to take on. Trap In reality, people of all professions, backgrounds, interests, and lifestyles are involved in social change. Lawyers, teachers, autoworkers, computer program- mers, cashiers and clerical workers are among the many making a difference in the streets, in the office, in their communities, and at home.
You can be yourself and fulfill your commitment to a better world. This book provides you a range of actions with which to carve out your own niche. Be creative, forge your own unique path, and translate commitment into action in your own way. People all over the world are living out their vision for a better world. Many people are simplifying their lives, downloading less stuff, working less, and giving back more to their community. Concern and knowledge about the environment has been spreading for the last 30 years, and recycling has become a widespread habit.
People are taking time to learn about other cultures and appreciate diversity. No matter where you turn, you see individuals doing their part. You are not alone in building a better world. In fact, you are part of a growing movement that is changing the face of the world!
When you start living your life more in line with your values, some conflicts may arise. They may even try to stop you from mak- ing changes in your life because they do not want to examine their own existence in the world. Accept this — it comes with the territory. It is also common to take on a self-righteous attitude when you have strongly held values. This attitude is destructive to the goal of a better world. People do not want to be around someone who lives life to show others how wrong they are.
If you have an understanding of the beauty and the complexity of life, then you will always attract people who are yearning for peace and fulfillment. Understand that you are no better than anyone else; you are just someone trying to live life the best way you know how. If we plan and prepare for this journey as we would for any other, it will make the trip less frustrating and more gratifying. When we learn a bit about where we have been and consider where we are going, it helps us to understand our current place in the voyage.
This section outlines seven essential foundations upon which we can build a better world. We begin our exploration of each foundation by describing the challenges that face us at home and around the world. Then we launch into con- crete goals — viable alternatives that can confront the challenges and help us construct the foundation. We also give inspiring examples of dedicated people around the world who are already making a positive difference. We end with some of the best, most accessible resources from which you can learn more about each issue.
Everyone would benefit from economic prosperity. While recent economic development in China and India has pulled millions out of poverty, about one billion people around the world still live in extreme poverty — living on less than one dollar a day. This poverty is not caused by absolute scarcity.
In , the average American CEO earned 42 times as much as the average worker they employed. By , the gap had grown to over times. Despite great progress in the s, the official poverty rate in is higher than in Interest payments on these debts further exacerbate the hardships poor people suffer.
Food subsidies, education, health care, and other services that the poor depend on are often the first programs to go. Sweatshops When companies create jobs in poor countries, they often force workers to endure sweatshop conditions — unsafe work environments, forced overtime, and pitiful wages. Profit-hungry businesses and corrupt governments keep wages low by firing workers who try to organize unions and failing to enforce labor laws.
A US Department of Labor investigation found that workers in an American Samoa factory were often beaten, deprived of food, and forced to work without pay — a modern form of slavery. The factory sold its clothing to J. Sweatshop work- ers make athletic shoes, electronic components, clothes, toys, trinkets and more. Sweatshops are not just problems in faraway lands, either. In addi- tion, large fruit and vegetable growers across the US have hired Latino migrant farm workers as a source of inexpensive labor for decades.
Mistreated workers are afraid to speak out due to the threat of deportation. There has been significant progress in the last three decades in many parts of the world. Currently the US gives a meager. For example, through a massive vaccination effort coordinated by the World Health Organization WHO , smallpox, a virulent disease that had killed millions of people, was eradicated from the planet.
That same type of resolve is needed to end global poverty as we know it! Fair Trade International trade holds enormous potential to liberate those who live in deep poverty. This potential can only be fulfilled if those who are committed to equal- ity put pressure upon corporations and governments. Tens of thousands of pro- testors at the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle ignited a global movement committed to economic justice.
This movement can transform trade negotiations so that the needs of the poor and of workers around the globe are primary concerns. Fair trade is an alternative economic model rooted in empowering rather than exploiting workers. The Fair Trade movement, now 50 years old, supports fair prices and working conditions in poor nations that produce goods for consumers in wealthier nations. Fair trade bananas control half of the market in some European countries.
Consumers committed to fair trade are unleashing the full potential of trade to fight poverty.
Ethical Economics Throughout our history, ordinary people have had to organize, struggle and fight for safe working conditions and economic security. Victories happen everyday across the world.
Community development banks, credit unions, loan funds and land trusts are committed to creating wealth among the economically disad- vantaged. These institutions create strong, vibrant local economies that large cor- porate banks and state governments often leave behind. The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities For Our Time. Penguin Press, Renowned economist Sachs recounts his experiences in global development work and outlines his plan to end global poverty by In addition, he provides one of the best primers on the inner workings of the modern global economy.
United Nations Development Programme. Human Development Report. Addresses trends in global poverty, develop- ment assistance, and assesses progress toward humanitarian goals. The Post-Corporate World. Berrett-Koehler and Kumarian Press, Field Guide to the Global Economy, revised edition.
The New Press, This visually appealing and very readable account of corporate-led globalization introduces the reader to progressive economic analysis backed up by high quality statistical research. Includes the forces behind globalization, the ten claims of globalization, and examples of grassroots resistance. Economic Apartheid in America. Engaging, accessible summary of economic inequality in the United States, including taxes, wealth, income, and political corruption.
The second half thoroughly discusses the policies and actions that are neces- sary to more equitably share our economic gains. Scholars estimate that at least 10 million people lost their lives in World War I. During World War II, the Allies firebombed Dresden and Tokyo and dropped two atomic bombs on Japanese cities killing , people immediately and another , over time. Ethnic hatred and desire for power has led to mass killings in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and Darfur. In , close to one million Tutsis were slaughtered in three months of brutal hand-to-hand attacks in Rwanda.
The world community, with the exception of Ghana, sat on its hands and watched the tragedy. An additional two million people were displaced from their homes. Militarization In the 20th century, we created a military arsenal so powerful that it is finally capable of destroying all human life on the planet. As you are reading this sentence, there are at least 20, nuclear weapons in nine countries.
Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. February 6, , www. The US government talks a good game about the need for international cooperation to enhance human rights, democracy, and peace, but many of its actions illustrate a more self-interested approach: Unilateralism We live in a time when the US is the last remaining superpower, able to impose its will upon less powerful nations.
The Bush Administration made it clear with the invasion of Iraq that it will use the United Nations when convenient and subvert its authority when it appears that it will be an obstacle to furthering US interests. The Charter of the United Nations clearly prohibits the invasion of a sovereign country except in the case of self-defense.
In order to ensure military dominance, the US maintains over military bases and has over , troops spread all over the world in Europe, East Asia, North Africa and the Middle East and that was before the invasion of Iraq. Culture of Violence The arena of violence is unfortunately not confined to the military battlefield. Millions of homes around the world are battlegrounds instead of sanctuaries.
In the US approximately 1. One in three Nigerian women and nearly one in two Zambian women report being beaten by their male partner. In , at least 3, people were executed in 25 countries. Out of that group, the US has executed the most child offenders. The world community can no longer walk away from regions of the world that are torn apart by violence and chaos. Humanitarianism used to be the only argument for providing aid to countries in need.
Now fight- ing poverty and supporting human rights has become an absolute necessity in order to prevent the conditions that lead to the rise of extremist ideologies. As a global community, we need to embrace all members of the human family, promote human rights, encourage tolerance, and do what we can to empower the disenfranchised. War and aggression create a cycle of violence where the dynamic of revenge spreads hatred and retaliation.
Christians, Jews, and Muslims need to realize that their futures are inextricably linked to each other. The invasion of Iraq has highlighted the principle that a war cannot bring reconciliation between peoples. It is time that we start to build bridges globally with all nations instead of constantly preparing for war. A peaceful world will not come about through fearing each other.
It will only come from citizens around the world standing up to their governments and demanding alternatives to mili- tarism. The enormous economic savings of having an economy that does not revolve around the military would also create the opportunity to fight disease, poverty, and bring justice to millions around the world. The foreign policies of all nations around the world need to better reflect the peaceful values of the majority of their citizens.
The US must take a leadership role in reducing and eliminating weapons of mass destruction. At the very least, this includes signing the international treaties that we have not signed, including bans on chemical and biological weapons, the production and sale of landmines and the reduction of nuclear weapons stockpiles. The US should not sell arms to non-democratic governments or ones that persistently violate human rights.
Our international aid should include more resources to help stop conflict before it starts and fewer tools for perpetuating it. We need to fund non-military conflict resolution and channel more of our defense spending into conflict pre- vention efforts and the advancement of practical, nonviolent resolutions. Ordinary people have been challenging the status quo and facilitating the transition to a more enlightened, cooperative approach to foreign policy.
For almost 20 years, Witness For Peace has sent over 7, US citizens to troubled parts of Latin America and the Caribbean to document the destructive impacts of mis- guided US foreign policy and to support efforts for nonviolent social change. Thousands risked arrest and jail, committing civil disobedience and speaking out on behalf of Latin American citizens.
On a grander scale, tens of millions of people from cities in over 60 countries across the globe, protested the invasion of Iraq before it ever happened, including Washington, DC , , Rome million , London 1 million , Barcelona 1. We are building a global culture every day that is demanding an end to war in our lifetime!
Nonviolent Culture We must create a culture that values compassion, tolerance, and cooperation instead of domination, arrogance and greed. This transformation needs to occur throughout all of our social institutions. While there are legitimate uses for guns in our society, we urgently need to pass and enforce an assault weapons ban, increased gun show accountability and stricter child safety provisions. The US needs to join every other industrialized country in ending the use of the death penalty.
In , the American Bar Association called for a nationwide moratorium on executions. In January , Illinois became the first state to agree to stop exe- cuting people until more research can conclusively prove that the system works. We need to reclaim the media and the images it presents to us about vio- lence, reconciliation, and masculinity.
Television networks ought to move violent programming out of those time slots when our youngest children are most likely to watch TV. Each of us needs to make a commitment to teach nonviolent con- flict resolution skills to the children in our lives — especially to young boys.
Our children need to grow up with a wide range of skills and tools they can draw on to solve problems when they become adults. A number of organizations have cropped up to make conflict resolution education a reality for every child. In , 6, teachers and , young people participated in their program, learning a comprehensive strategy for nonviolent conflict resolution and how to build caring, peaceful communities.
Fog of War directed by Errol Morris. Sony Pictures Classics, Why We Fight directed by Eugene Jarecki. These two excellent documentaries explore the roles of war and the military in US foreign policy and the American psyche. On Killing: Grossman takes us through a history of wars to explain the socio-psychological techniques used to make it possible for soldiers to kill other human beings. He then shows how this same dehumanization process is taking place in our society through television, movies, and video games.
Anchor, Hedges, a former New York Times war correspondent, draws upon his experiences in Kosovo and other war zones to explore the intoxicating psy- chic appeal of war — including a sense of moral clarity and a powerful national unity of purpose.
Strength to Love. Fortress Press. Check out Dr. Times Books, A provocative history of 14 US-led coups, revolutions, and invasions that have toppled foreign governments, including Iran, South Vietnam, Chile, and Iraq. Kinzer uncovers US politi- cal and economic motives and analyzes the unintended long-term conse- quences for each regime change. A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide. HarperPerennial, Overfishing of ocean fisheries has created widespread alarm around the world.
In addi- tion, many countries, including the US, China and India, overpump their aquifers to irrigate their grain harvest. Falling water tables indicate that many aquifers will run dry in the near future—causing declines in food production. This is no surprise, since the US lifestyle demands pounds 54 kilograms of natural resources per person per day.
Or inhaled the crisp, clean air when you camp in a remote wilderness area? Unfortunately, air pollution is more than just a smelly annoyance; it kills about 70, Americans each year more people than die from breast and prostate cancers combined 89 and an estimat- ed 3 million deaths worldwide every year. The US Justice Department found a fleet-wide conspiracy within Royal Caribbean cruise lines to save millions of dollars in disposal fees by covering up the dumping of oily waste into the ocean off of Puerto Rico.
Even modest warming could significantly impact agricultural yields, habitat integrity and vulnerable coastal populations around the globe.
Even a one or two degree variation in temperature could shrink the grain harvest in major food-producing regions. In , the human population grew by over , people per day or 75 million per year. Overpopulation is a complex issue with a multitude of causes. Amazingly, the US exacerbates this problem by refusing to pay its share of the United Nations Population Fund, the primary international family planning resource.
Poverty, coupled with limited educational and occupational opportunities for women, further exacerbate rapid population growth. As the developing world increasingly adopts a consumer lifestyle, the potential for ecological damage greatly multiplies.
We already have environmentally sound, energy-efficient technologies to harness these renewable energy sources — we just need to use them. In , the United Nations sponsored a global climate conference in Kyoto, Japan emphasizing the seriousness of global warming.
The meetings produced a commitment from over countries to significantly reduce greenhouse emissions by the US was not among them.
As a consequence, the demand for non-polluting energy sources is increasing worldwide, and the costs of using these technologies is steadily declining. Local US leaders have not let the feet-dragging of the federal government keep them from taking action. It is technologically sound, affordable and spreading around the globe today.
Iceland has launched pio- neering efforts to harness geothermal and hydropower to produce hydrogen for use in cars and boats. And get this: The concept of waste, for example, does not exist in the forest. A fallen tree becomes a home for animals and insects, and helps to fertilize the soil for surrounding plant life. In order to combat pollution, Germany, Sweden, Spain, the U.
Encouraging examples of this kind of conservation ethic are happening all over the world. Governments must stop subsidizing environmentally destructive industries, such as logging and oil, with corporate tax breaks. Switching from a pesticide- and fertilizer-based agricultural system to sustainable, organic farming will maintain soil integrity and preserve our health. Relying more on tree plantations and sustainable aquaculture will relieve pressure to cut down old-growth forests and overfish our oceans.
Fortunately, many people are already stepping up to the challenge. Twenty- six communities in New Zealand are pioneering a national Zero Waste pilot program to significantly reduce the amount of materials headed for the landfill. Since then, many industrialized countries have stabilized their populations, while developing countries still struggle with massive population growth.
Wealthier nations must provide developing nations with the resources they need to curb their ballooning populations.
These efforts need to be focused on improving the status of women, increasing access to family planning services, and bringing economic opportunity to poverty-stricken rural areas.
There have already been some amazing successes around the globe. Bangladesh, the most densely populated country in the world, has actually decreased its fertility rate from approximately 6. In Brazil, literate women average only two children while illiterate women average more than six children.
One only needs to look at the ozone layer to see the great potential of concerted global action. Based on their research, the Montreal Protocol, signed in , phased out the production of ozone-damaging chemi- cals, such as chlorofluorocarbons CFCs.
This regulation slowed down the growth of the hole and eventually reversed the trend. Scientists now predict that the hole will be repaired by Public pressure for more stringent environmental regulation has led to technological progress that has significantly improved automotive and industrial emissions. Air quality in most of the developed world has been improving for the last thirty years because of this pressure.
Plan B 2. Norton, Written by one of the great environmental thinkers of all time, this award-winning book provides a readable analysis of our greatest social and environmental challenges. It details global problems and presents a realistic plan of action for ending poverty and nourishing our natural systems. Three Rivers Press, Hunter Lovins. Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution. Back Bay Books, The authors strike an unusual middle ground between capitalism and environmentalism.
They use a number of current examples to illustrate a trend toward more eco- friendly, better technologies and more practical, sustainably-run businesses.
Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. North Point Press. The book itself is printed on a polymer rather than paper that can be cleaned, melted and re-formed into a completely new book. Northwest Environment Watch, This fascinating, concise book traces the environmental impacts of everyday objects including a cup of coffee, a pair of sneakers, an aluminum can and a hamburger.
State of the World and Vital Signs: Annual publications. Provides up-to-date research on pressing global environmen- tal problems, their causes, and their potential solutions. Great resources for assessing environmental trends. DEEP DEMOCRACY A world built on deep democracy would empower citizens to participate in shaping their futures every day not just on election day , provide broad access to quality infor- mation, and democratize our most powerful institutions.
Scenes of government repression and corruption happen around the globe every year. A government is democratic to the extent that average people have the abil- ity to influence decisions that affect their daily lives and the future of their soci- ety.
Unfortunately, dictatorships of military or wealthy elites rule much of the world without the consent of the people. Government of, by, and for these elites has created tremendous suffering for the average person.
Over the last years, voter turnout has steadily declined. The US has one of the lowest voting rates of any democratic country. Communities of color were more likely to have long voting lines, outdated voting equipment causing higher rates of disqualified votes and resi- dents who were wrongly credited with felonies and prevented from voting.
Without the participa- tion of average people in government, by definition the government cannot rep- resent the interests of average people. Where does all that money come from? Such an extreme funding imbalance creates a situation in which the wealthy and powerful gain access, influence, and polit- ical clout at the expense of the poor, people of color, workers and the environment.
In the information age, candidates need more and more money for advertising. Politicians have turned to massive and mislead- ing TV ad campaigns that have proven effective in gaining voter support. This big money stranglehold on our government far too often sabotages our efforts to make government effectively work for the people. Media Control In non-democratic countries the biggest threat to a free and independent press is government censorship.
In authoritarian countries, media outlets are either owned outright or supervised by the government. At other times journalists shirk their responsibility to ask tough questions to those in power. The integrity of a democracy relies heavily upon the quality of information available to its citizenry.
We Americans believe in the First Amendment because our democracy flourishes when we can hear a diversity of voices, and we trust citizens to make up their own minds.
The media industry, under the control of fewer and fewer corporations, is eroding the freedom and diversity that make our democracy great. Corporate mergers have left fewer than five corporations in control of the majority of our information. Devotion to stock prices and advertising revenues often sacrifices quality journalism. But TV executives know that if they spend more time examining stories about violent crimes, more people will tune in to their news broadcasts.
Instead of providing a vibrant forum for discussing pressing social issues, election coverage often focuses on superficial characteristics of the candidates. The fall of the Berlin Wall in and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in helped bring about a major democratic transition in Eastern Europe.
Shifts toward democracy are also occurring in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America. One important way to decrease the need for large political contributions is to restrict political advertisements which usually contain half-truths at best and give sensible amounts of free TV time to any candidate who is running for office. These changes would substan- tially lower the costs of campaigns, increase outreach to the public, and raise the overall level of political discourse — the second TV advertisement could give way to a serious consideration of the issues that distinguish the candidates.
Publicly financing campaigns may seem counter-intuitive at first glance. Why should we want to pay for mudslinging, misleading campaign ads? Well, with public financing, we could lay down guidelines for what are appropriate uses of our money and take back control of how parties run campaigns. Wealthy interest groups would no longer be able to hold millions of dollars over the heads of our govern- ment officials, the vast majority of whom plan to run for reelection.
It may even be cheaper in the long run for taxpayers, because the representatives that we elect have fewer favors to grant after the election — which mean less corporate tax giveaways and pork barrel projects. They articulate ideas that the two major parties are not addressing and often influence one or both of them in the process.
Minor party candidates who can demonstrate that they represent a sig- nificant number of people should have easier access to ballots, participation in debates, and media coverage. These kinds of changes will provide a much more comprehensive discussion of ideas throughout our society.
The presidential election debacle has led to many positive reforms. It is now time to allow voters to register to vote on Election Day and join many other democratic nations by making Election Day a national holiday! Independent Media A well-functioning democracy requires a media system that provides diverse sources of information and encourages civic participation.
The government once considered the airwaves such an integral part of our democracy that politicians decided the public should own and control them. It is time for the public to reclaim the responsibility of producing quality media from the corporate con- glomerates.
The first step is to break up the concentration of media power. Also we must create and maintain a non- commercial public media system PBS, NPR as well as independent alternative media that exist outside the control of transnational corporations and advertisers.
The rise of independent political blogs, alternative podcasts, radio networks like Air America, and television channels such as Link TV and Current TV are all examples of citizens rising up to take back control of our media. Legal protections from government abuses must be extended to all citizens. Freedom to openly disagree with the actions and ideas of the powerful is central to the demo- cratic ethos.
The light of open government needs to drive out political corruption and cronyism. As we have seen in post-invasion Iraq though, the transition toward democracy is an arduous one that takes decades and cannot be imposed from the outside. Regardless of the structure of the political system and the media, the overall health of a democracy rests firmly on the backs of its citizens. Civic participation is the soul of a democracy.
For a democracy to flourish, average people must choose to educate themselves on the issues of the day, seek solutions to the problems they see, and implement these solutions on a daily basis in their communities.
Daily civic participation is essential to creating a just government and a just society. Without adequate citizen participation, corporations and special interests tend to get their way — their voices become louder when fewer and fewer of us are speaking up.
Civic involvement includes educating ourselves through a variety of media, joining community groups, participating in boycotts, volunteering for good causes, demonstrating when important social concerns arise and even talking with your neighbors about issues you care about. In , door-to-door get-out- the-vote efforts in the US led to a surge in voter registration and voter turnout, especially among young people and people of color. The Culture Of Fear: Basic Books, Barry Glassner systematically breaks down our current media environment and demonstrates how our perception of an ultra-violent world is a product of a media system addicted to hype and politicians obsessed with control.
We the Media. New Press, Jim Hightower delivers a common sense, populist message to everyone that is fed up with politics as usual. He explores how the little guy is being squeezed out of a system of democracy that gives us candidates all of whom support big corporate interests and gov- ernment fat cats.
Soul of a Citizen: Living With Conviction in a Cynical Time. Encourages us to challenge the cynicism of our time by creating sustainable social change in our everyday lives.
Read this book — it will make you feel like getting involved in your community. The Future of the Media: Resistance and Reform in the 21st Century. Seven Stories Press, This edited volume illustrates how corporate control of the media threatens our democratic ideals. When a handful of corporations control the vast majority of the media, they inevitably pursue their own interests over the interests of citizens.
Is That a Politician in Your Pocket? John Wiley and Sons, The Quickening of America: Jossey-Bass, This powerful book illustrates through examples how we can create meaningful communities by living democracy. SOCIAL JUSTICE A world dedicated to social justice is a place where everyone receives respect and equal access to jobs, education, and health care regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, physical or mental abilities, or economic background.
In their lifetime an estimated one in three women in the world will be subjected to violence in an intimate relationship and one in five women will be a victim of rape or attempted rape. In Thailand and other countries, sexual slavery is common, with over 2 million girls aged 5 to15 trapped in the sex trade every year. Every minute a woman unnecessarily dies of pregnancy-related causes—more than half a million each year. Poor reproductive health conditions are the leading causes of illness and death among women ages Wade, many of the battles to maintain reproductive freedom for women are being lost at the state level.
Despite making tremendous strides, US women still experience numerous injustices. Only 14 out of US senators are women and that is the highest number ever , while only 66 women are among the members of the US House of Representatives — ranking 66th in the world in gender equality.
Racism Racism is still having devastating effects in the US and around the world. Many racial and ethnic minorities are prevented from fully participating in their soci- eties.
Stereotyping and prejudice lead to exclusion and discrimination. The effects of racism vary from genocide and hate-crimes to segregation and fear. Recent events highlight the continuing significance of race and ethnicity in human relations. Tensions between Sunni and Shia muslims in Iraq have led to waves of violence. Riots in Paris uncover a segregated, disenfranchised immigrant population without economic opportunities.
Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast of the US and revealed an African-American underclass that bore the full brunt of the disaster. Ultra-nationalist political parties gain strength in Europe, blaming economic and social problems on recent immigrants from Africa and the Middle East. A lack of political representation and economic resources perpetuates the marginalization of minorities. Despite many decades of struggle, prejudice and discrimination live on in our racially segregated schools, neighborhoods, churches and workplaces.
The staggering wealth inequality throughout the world hits people of color especially hard, even in the US. Our society creates significant inequalities in income, edu- cation, home ownership, treatment by police, treatment by the courts, access to health care, corporate America and the halls of government.
In , African- Americans Schools attended by predominantly African-American and Latino students tend to be poorly maintained, have more unqualified teachers, and few up-to-date textbooks. This fact did not seem to phase D. Goldsmith when they wanted to ship metric tons of mercury one of the largest stockpiles of toxic metals in the US to India.
Naturally, exposure to such toxins increases rates of illness and mortality. Heterosexism Homosexuals are perhaps the last group still culturally acceptable to slander. Around the world gays and lesbians are discriminated against and often forced to live in the shadows of their societies.
Homosexual acts are even punishable by death in nine nations including Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Heterosexuals can legally marry, show affection in public, be with their partner during severe illness and receive tax benefits — while not need- ing to worry about hate crimes, discrimination, slurs or violence. Reflecting the intense heterosexism still prevalent around the nation, by , 26 states had passed constitutional amendments restricting marriage to heterosexual couples, and 12 more are currently considering such legislation.
Inadequate Health Care Billions of poor people have inadequate access to basic health care. In trying to download health care from their own pockets, they pay and become poorer. Family members disappear in the mid- dle of the night, never to be seen again. The US is quickly becoming the prison capital of the world, incarcerating a higher percentage of its citizens than any other country. We had fewer than , adults behind bars in ; , in ; and , in People of color and ethnic minorities deserve non-stereo- typical cultural images, equal access to education and jobs, fair political representation, and just treatment in the legal system.
Paul, forced companies to clean up toxic dumps, and successfully pressured banks to reinvest in their communities.
By , that number had risen to 77 cents. In , the Netherlands became the first country to grant gay and lesbian marriage equality, and Belgium, Spain, Canada and South Africa soon followed. More than fifteen other coun- tries offer some form of legal recognition and rights for same-sex couples. As a global society, we now have the opportunity to stand up and support equal rights and to nurture all loving relationships.
Universal Health Care and Education The world community needs to commit itself to providing quality education for all of the human family. Studies in the developing world have found that the sim- ple act of providing a free lunch to students leads to huge gains in attendance, educational performance, and how long students stay in school.
Education leads to improved economic prospects, better reproductive health, smaller family size, and improved HIV awareness. The world has more than enough resources to provide universal health care and education to everyone. From the Ground Up: New York University Press, A fascinating history of the environmental justice movement and the factors that lead toxic facilities to be placed in poor communities of color in the United States.
Their work documents how thousands of people are now fighting for their children, their health, and their communities. Going Up the River: Travels in a Prison Nation. Random House, Tells the stories of wardens, inmates, guards, prison planners, townspeople, and others. Uprooting Racism: New Society Publishers, Provides an understanding of white privilege and racism and offers concrete suggestions on how to resist oppression. Amazing Grace: Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation.
HarperPerennial Library, Drugs, inadequate housing, rampant unemployment and overcrowded schools make a clarion call for justice for those living on the margins of our society.
Also check out: Savage Inequalities: Is It a Choice?: Harper San Francisco, A very readable, helpful book that leaves no topic untouched. HarperCollins, SIMPLE LIVING A society that embraces simple living would encourage each person to find meaning and fulfillment by pursuing their true passions, fostering loving relationships, and liv- ing authentic, reflective lives rather than by seeking status and material possessions.
Advertising saturates every aspect of our lives. Ever since the advent of modern advertising in the s, corporations have uti- lized carefully chosen, powerful, and emotion-laden images and slogans to forev- er imprint their brands on our minds.
And the assault is working. We take in more than commercial impressions every day. Telemarketers encroach on our homes and personal time.
TV monitors show continuous com- mercials in elevators. Commercials precede movies in the theaters and on video. Spammers clog up our email in-boxes.
Advertisements, called product placements, have even snuck into the scripts and scenery of our television programs, movies, and video games. Increasingly the stadiums, once named after honored citizens or local communities, are now named after corporations: Excessive commercialism is not only an annoyance but it often undermines many of our deeply held values and sacred institutions that transcend the desire for material possessions. For most of our history, we have protected our schools as commercial-free havens for children.
Corporations and administrators are now violating this principle. School districts have become strapped for funding, and corporations have come asking for commercial access into the classroom. Corporate advertisements are now pervasive in school hallways, on sides of school buses, on book covers and within corporate-sponsored educational mate- rials.
Some schools even distribute free product samples. Two minutes of commercials bring junk- food ads right into the classroom every day, reaching eight million school kids. Because ads work. Commercialism is the engine that drives our cultural obsession with material possessions. Many advertisements encourage us to have self-con- scious feelings of inadequacy and dissatisfaction. Stretching ourselves too thinly sucks out the meaning of daily expe- riences.
Long hours at work lead us to eating fast food meals while driving. Rushed cell phone calls provide our only lifeline to friends and family. Our material abundance has created serious levels of time poverty.
Hyper-consumerism has become a way of life. Consumption surpasses other more socially beneficial goals, such as having sound character, contributing to the well-being of others, or becoming a good citizen.
On a global level, advertisers encourage people to leave behind their distinctive cultural practices in favor of this new form of materialism. Unfortunately, the global media do not portray to these countries the downside of adopting con- sumerism an increase in debt, higher stress levels, environmental destruction, a rise in selfishness, etc.
It seems that the only thing in the world safe from com- mercialism is religion. As part of the arrangements, select packages of Sabritas potato chips made by Frito-Lay contained complimentary pictures of the Pope — a deal approved by the Vatican.
We must commit to leading lives fueled by compassion and love rather than by consumption and personal gain. Alaska, Hawaii, Maine and Vermont have even banned billboards in many public places. A great place to start is by reclaiming our shared holidays from Madison Avenue. In recent years, Christmas has become more a celebration of materialism than of the values of generosity, strong families, and spiritual connection. Moreover, believe it or not, in Thanksgiving was specifically moved one week earlier in order to lengthen the Christmas shopping season.
Revenues from advertisements are minor compared to overall school budgets. A school free from corporate slogans and logos would send a strong message to our children that we value their learning environment and independ- ent development. Some countries, such as Norway, have begun to protect their children even outside the schools by banning all TV advertisements aimed at children under 12 years old. The American Psychological Association advocates restricting all advertising directed to children eight years old and younger.
Voluntary simplicity provides people with a more balanced way of liv- ing, based on their most deeply held values. It involves recognizing the trap of consumerism and unplugging at least partially from the commercial culture that perpetuates it. Living simply involves: We can return to living as multidimensional human beings. Currently, just to make ends meet, many two-parent families feel compelled to have both parents work full-time while their children are in daycare or school.
But in our current economy, the issue of over- working has arisen once again. The time is ripe for a change. A culture based on simplicity may seem out of reach for our country of die-hard consumers, but simple living is becoming one of the fastest-growing trends around the world. As we limit commercialism and create a culture of simplicity, we will create stronger families and communi- ties, help nurture our natural environment and foster more meaningful lives.
The Circle of Simplicity. Andrews uses a critique of consumer culture to offer a more creative, community-ori- ented, spiritually full alternative to consumerism.
Individual strategies for simple living complement suggestions for society-wide changes that pro- mote a culture of simplicity. No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies. Knopf Canada, Written by a journalist, this book examines the pervasiveness of corpo- rate images in our culture and its effect upon our children and our identities. Culture Jam: Quill Publishers, The founder of Adbusters Magazine provides a scathing look at how corporations brand us and, through the media, set the agenda for our culture.
Luckily, Lasn also gives us suggestions for strategies we can use to put control back in the hands of common folk. The Overspent American. Schor is an engag- ing economist who analyzes the immensity of American consumer debt, its historical causes and solutions for escaping consumerism.
Born To download: Scribner, Her in-depth research, including inter- views with advertising executives and kids, leads to a better understanding of the problem and some potential solutions. The Persuaders. Frontline, This trend has led us to abandon our sense of responsibili- ty for the well-being of our communities, our country, and our fellow human beings around the world. Americans have become much more mobile than they were even 50 years ago.
Being able to move to a different city or state provides us with the opportunity to go where our best job prospects may lie.
But our sense of connection, our roots, in any one area or group of people withers away. When we move frequently, there is little reason to invest in making our temporary community more beautiful, more livable, or safer.
There may not be enough time, or you may not have the energy to develop deep, meaningful friendships. As a society, we are losing our ability to plant roots. In addition, many communities are no longer the vibrant, nurturing places that they used to be.
Housing developers have designed spaces that maximize building efficiency while unintentionally creating communities that lack character, unique- ness, and heart. Community after community becomes McDonaldized, duplicat- ing generic versions of themselves all over the country. Warehouse-sized retailers, fast food outlets, and other corporate chains move in to replace small, community- rooted businesses, and soon you have created a place called Anywhere, USA.
We spend more and more time in our cars often in gridlock — commuting back and forth to work, driving to the store, taking the kids to school and running errands. We spend thousands of hours working just to pay for our cars and millions of dollars of our taxes to pay for new roads.
We build extra-wide streets to accommodate cars instead of people, and we increase speed limits so that we can work further away from home without losing more time. Current urban planning models leave us with no pedestrian-friendly public spaces or businesses within five miles of our houses.
We shop in one community, work in another, and sleep in another. Many of us spend so much time at work and in our cars that our home is little more than a bedroom oasis between hour-long commutes.
Lack of Compassion From an early age, society teaches us to look out for number one. The US, per- haps more than any other country in the world, values the individual. Unfortunately, we generally accept selfishness as both natural and, to a certain extent, desirable. Our exclusive self-interest has left many of us lone- ly, isolated and empty.
And we cannot survive on selfishness alone. Selfishness lacks the one thing we desire more than anything else — meaning. Material objects have gained meaning and value at the expense of human relationships. We have stopped valuing such desirable human qualities as being nurturing and caring and replaced them with an emphasis on the ability to acquire marketable skills and achieve material success.
Many of us have also become quite calloused to the suffering of others. The media and politicians represent the poor as lazy and irresponsible rather than as lacking the same opportunities the majority enjoy.
The poor are rarely portrayed as needing a helping hand to overcome economic and social obstacles. Crime reports on television stimulate our instincts of fear and self-preservation, instead of motivating us to make our communities safer. Wars and disasters that take the lives of tens of thousands no longer faze us for more than a few hours as we numb ourselves in order to carry out the rest of our day.
As we neglect the value of our fellow human beings in times of need, we slowly chip away at our own sense of being valued by others.
Our challenge is to create a soci- ety that encourages loving relationships and strong communities where people can count on each other for support and mutual well-being. We must look into the eyes of the homeless, the poor, the elderly, children, and the disenfranchised and see their humanity as our shared bond. We must embrace those that live beyond our borders and consider everyone as equal mem- bers of the human family — a family that values all people regardless of their social or economic status.
We must recognize that our own well-being is inextricably linked to the well-being of our community and that it is valuable to be a part of a healthy and loving community that cherishes shared values and embraces individual differ- ences.
We must reassert that contributing to the common good is a worthy calling for every one of us and not just the lifelong vocation of saints and dreamers. Smart Growth To create communities worth living in, we must work together to intentionally plan them.
We must bring back the town squares, parks, pedestrian-only streets and other gathering places that bring a community to life. We must intentionally plan our housing and business developments to encourage community building by creating safe, open areas where we can walk, bike, talk to each other and play with our children. As we begin to reclaim our own sense of community, we will rediscover the value of developing a deep relationship with the place and people around us.
People around the globe have already begun taking back their communities. When we revitalize our community institutions, including religious groups, locally owned businesses, parent-involved schools, community centers, homeless shelters, and other social and political groups, it will strengthen our commitment to one another.
To make this happen, we must be personally willing to integrate ourselves in our communities. This could involve volunteering for a local organi- zation, keeping up on local events, getting involved in local schools, supporting local businesses, or just getting to know our neighbors by their first names.
As we strengthen community institutions, we can also reevaluate their pur- poses and how they work. Community service would more fully integrate the next generation into your community and help instill an ethic of service that will carry on for years to come. In Greenfield, Massachusetts, citizens convinced Wal-Mart to pay for a study that would examine the economic impacts of building a superstore in their community.
Independent America. Tom Powers, executive producer, These provocative documentaries encourage us to stand up and fight for independent businesses and the uniqueness of our communities by keeping out big-box retailers. The Spirit Of Community: Open Preview See a Problem? Wesley Hanna. Details if other: Thanks for telling us about the problem.
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Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. Sort order. Feb 11, Diana rated it really liked it Shelves: It gives you the basics on what they do, how to make or find period clothing, and how to create what's known as a persona in the society. I used to go to some events when I was younger and looked into getting back into it in recent years. That's why I picked up a newer edition of the book. Nov 06, Kilian Metcalf rated it really liked it.
I love playing in the Society for Creative Anachronism. This Handbook should be in the hands of newcomers to the Society. It explains the history, customs, and many activities open to every gentle who would like to explore life in the Middle Ages. I recommend it as well for veteran players who may have overlooked some of the more obscure corners of the Society.
This is an in-depth view of a wonderfully diverse and creative organization. Brandy rated it really liked it Jun 11, Deborah rated it it was amazing Oct 29, Stargate DHD rated it it was amazing May 22, Jaye Sudar rated it liked it Dec 26, Danielle rated it really liked it Feb 15, Nov 20, Mat Dolton rated it liked it. A must read for any new SCAdian: Brigette Burandt rated it really liked it Apr 12, Dakin Burdick rated it it was amazing Apr 02, D rated it really liked it Jun 08,