Thursday, March 31, 2011
In 1964, he founded the School of Youth for Social Service and created the La Boi Press that continues to publish books about Buddhism and mindful living. Hanh used his influential position to call for reconciliation between the warring parties. In 1966, he accepted an invitation to return to the United States; he was asked to participate in the Fellowship of Reconciliation and to come to Cornell University. His advocacy of peace through non-violent means was so moving that Martin Luther King Jr. nominated Hanh for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967. It was, in large part, due to Hahn’s eloquence and commitment to peace that King came out publicly against the war at a press conference where Hanh was present. Thomas Merton, the well known monk and Catholic theologian, was also one of Hanh’s admirers.
Hanh went on to meet with influential US senators including J. William Fulbright and Ted Kennedy and the Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara in order to argue his case. He also met with Pope Paul IV in an effort to bring Catholics and Buddhists together to work towards peace in Vietnam. In 1969, Hanh agreed to set up a Buddhist Peace Delegation at the Paris Peace Talks. After the Peace Accords were finally signed in 1973, Hanh was denied re-entry into Vietnam. Undaunted, he established a peace community in Paris called, “Sweet Potato.” There he remained for five years involved in meditation, writing, reading, etc. He lived a quiet and solitary life there accepting visitors only occasionally.
He went on to establish Plum Village a retreat center near the town of Bordeaux, France. He has made repeated pilgrimages to North America to give lectures on behalf of peace. In the words of the Dalai Lama written in the forward of Hanh’s book entitled, Peace is Every Step – The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life, “Although attempting to bring about peace through the internal transformation of individuals is difficult, it is the only way. Wherever I go, I express this, and I am encouraged that people from many different walks of life receive it well. Peace must first be developed with the individual. And I believe that love, compassion, and altruism are the fundamental basis for peace. Once these qualities are developed within the individual, he or she is then able to create an atmosphere of peace and harmony. This atmosphere can be expanded and extended from the individual to his family, from the family to the community and eventually to the whole world.” The Dalai Lama stated that Hanh offers guidance for such a journey. This journey towards peaceful inner transformation represents, in my judgment, the core of Hanh’s beliefs.
According to Hanh, peace is always present, is always possible to the individual. It is achievable through self awareness attained by a thoughtful practice of mindfulness in our daily lives. He advises being aware of every moment; of understanding our own personal emotions and feelings. For example, according to Hanh, “Anger is rooted in our lack of understanding of ourselves and of the causes, deep-seated as well as immediate, that brought about the unpleasant state of affairs. Anger is also rooted in desire, pride agitation and suspicion.” In essence the source of anger lies within the self rather than in the external object, person or event that is the focus of such an extreme emotion.
Hanh comes from a strong Buddhist tradition. Much of Buddhist practice is centered on being aware of the present moment. His way of teaching, therefore, focuses upon techniques to enhance that awareness. He strongly advocates conscious breathing and mindfulness of every aspect of human activity. An integral part of his psychology is the concept of what he refers to as, “internal formation.” According to his thinking, sensory input may leave “fetters,” or “knots” depending upon the individual’s particular receptivity. These knots can be impediments to successful living, if they are not understood. Hanh believes that self awareness would make one immediately aware of knots as they are being formed.
Hanh sees the reality of the state of human affairs in the following way: “If the Earth were your body, you would be able to feel the many areas where it is suffering. War, political and economic oppression, famine and pollution wreak havoc in so many places. Every day, children are becoming blind from malnutrition, their hands search hopelessly through mounds of trash for a few ounces of food. Adults are dying slowly in prisons for trying to oppose violence. Rivers are dying, and the air is becoming and more difficult to breath.
“Many people are aware of the world’s suffering; their hearts are filled with compassion. They know what needs to be done, and they engage in political, social, and environmental work to try to change things. But after a period of intense involvement, they may become discouraged if they lack the strength needed to sustain a life of action. Real strength is not in power, money, or weapons, but in deep, inner peace.”
This is a central concept in Hanh’s world view. Practicing mindfulness is, to him, the way to cultivate inner peace. Hanh proposes that mindfulness is, “the energy of attention.” It is, “the miracle that allows us to be fully alive in each moment.” In terms of his philosophy, mindfulness represents the foundation for living in the world. In a broader context, mindfulness is defined as one of the five spiritual powers; the others being faith, diligence, concentration and insight.
Experiencing the Vietnam War helped awaken him to the reality that the very roots of war emanate from within – from the way we live our daily lives. Accordingly, the way a society is organized socially, culturally and economically predisposes it to the use of violence to resolve conflict. Resolving conflict nonviolently requires insights into the suffering endured by both sides. To practice nonviolence is to become nonviolent. It is only then that when confronted by a difficult situation, individuals, communities or nations will react nonviolently.
Thich Nhat Hanh has become a very influential voice in regards to peace. He is not an activist, per se, but functions more like a wise and compassionate mentor, helping individuals understand their own internal motivations and providing them with the tools to achieve greater self awareness. Hanh is convinced that this awareness, once achieved, will necessarily lead to peace from within and ultimately a more peaceful world. He has made significant contributions to human affairs especially in regard to forging a better and more peaceful world.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Ai collaborated with Swiss architects Herzog de Meuron as the artistic consultant on the Beijing National Stadium for the 2008 Olympics. Besides showing his art he has been investigating in the corruption and cover-ups under the power of the government.
He was particularly focused at exposing an alleged corruption scandal in the construction of Sichuan schools that collapsed during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. He intensively uses the internet to communicate with people all over China, especially the young generation. (read more)
Monday, March 28, 2011
Anonymous (used as a mass noun) is an Internet meme originating 2003 on the imageboard 4chan, representing the concept of many online community users simultaneously existing as an anarchic, digitized global brain. It is also generally considered to be a blanket term for members of certain Internet subcultures, a way to refer to the actions of people in an environment where their actual identities are not known.
In its early form, the concept has been adopted by a decentralized on-line community acting anonymously in a coordinated manner, usually toward a loosely self-agreed goal, and primarily focused on entertainment. Beginning with 2008, the Anonymous collective has become increasingly associated with collaborative, international hacktivism, undertaking protests and other actions, often with the goal of promoting internet freedom and freedom of speech. Actions credited to "Anonymous" are undertaken by unidentified individuals who apply the Anonymous label to themselves as attribution.
Although not necessarily tied to a single on-line entity, many websites are strongly associated with Anonymous. This includes notable imageboards such as 4chan, Futaba, Ebaumsworld their associated wikis, Encyclopædia Dramatica, and a number of forums. After a series of controversial, widely-publicized protests and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks by Anonymous in 2008, incidents linked to its cadre members have increased. In consideration of its capabilities, Anonymous has been posited by CNN to be one of the three major successors to WikiLeaks.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Saturday, March 26, 2011
Early on July 8, 1947 he was ordered by the base commander, Colonel William Blanchard, to draft a press release to the public, announcing that the United States Army Air Force had recovered a crashed "flying disc" from a nearby ranch.
The press release garnered widespread national and even international media attention. The U.S. Army Air Force retracted the claim later the same day, saying instead that a weather balloon had been recovered. Haut also received some criticism and ridicule in the nation's press for putting out the original press release. The series of events eventually became known as the Roswell UFO Incident.
When interviewed about the incident decades later, he claimed only a minor role, but he expressed his belief that there was "no chance" senior officers who handled the recovered material, including base commander Blanchard, mistook a weather balloon for a flying saucer.
He later claimed greater involvement, including seeing alien corpses and a craft at a base hangar and handling the strange crash debris.
In December 2002, Haut also signed a sealed affidavit in which he went into more details about the craft, debris, bodies, and cover-up. Both the interview and affidavit were not to be released until after his death.
The full text of the affidavit was first published in June 2007 in the book Witness to Roswell: Unmasking the 60 Year Cover-Up. According to the authors, Haut had sworn to his friend Colonel Blanchard not to reveal in his lifetime the events he witnessed and therefore told researchers either that he couldn't remember or that he had only prepared and released the information that was given to him at the time and denied he knew anything else.
In his affidavit, Haut stated that on July 8, 1947, following the press release he put out in the afternoon, he was taken out to a base hangar by Colonel Blanchard. There he saw an egg-shaped craft about 15 feet long and several small bodies about four feet tall with large heads. He was convinced the bodies were alien and had come from a crashed spacecraft.
Haut also stated that there had been two major crash sites that he had become aware of the day before, the first a large debris field about 75 miles northwest of Roswell (the site investigated by Major Marcel), and the second, about 40 miles north of town, where the main craft and bodies were found. The north site had just been found by civilians on July 7, and apparently word had already gotten out about it in the public.
At the staff morning meeting on July 8, which Haut said he attended, key officers at the base were briefed and strange debris was handed around, which nobody could identify. Haut also said there was a discussion as to what the public was to be told. General Ramey had flown in to attend the meeting. Haut said Ramey suggested telling the public about the more distant debris field as a diversion from the more accessible and important body/craft site. He felt Ramey was following orders from The Pentagon. Haut added he was not aware at the time exactly what information was to be divulged. But the press release he put out a few hours later spoke of the more distant site in general terms, saying that the Army Air Force had come into possession of a "flying disc" with cooperation of a local rancher, and it was being flown on to "higher headquarters" after being examined at the base. "Higher headquarters" quickly turned out to be Gen. Ramey in Fort Worth, who within a few hours said the "flying disc" was a misidentified weather balloon.
Friday, March 25, 2011
Stanley Kubrick (July 26, 1928 – March 7, 1999) was an American film director, writer, producer, and photographer who lived in England during most of the last four decades of his career. Kubrick was noted for the scrupulous care with which he chose his subjects, his slow method of working, the variety of genres he worked in, his technical perfectionism, and his reclusiveness about his films and personal life. He maintained almost complete artistic control, making movies according to his own whims and time constraints, but with the rare advantage of big-studio financial support for all his endeavors.
Kubrick's films are characterized by a formal visual style and meticulous attention to detail—his later films often have elements of surrealism and expressionism that eschews structured linear narrative. His films are repeatedly described as slow and methodical, and are often perceived as a reflection of his obsessive and perfectionist nature. A recurring theme in his films is man's inhumanity to man. While often viewed as expressing an ironic pessimism, a few critics feel his films contain a cautious optimism when viewed more carefully.
The film that first brought him attention to many critics was Paths of Glory, the first of three films of his about the dehumanizing effects of war. Many of his films at first got a lukewarm reception, only to be years later acclaimed as masterpieces that had a seminal influence on many later generations of film-makers. Considered especially groundbreaking was 2001: A Space Odyssey noted for being both one of the most scientifically realistic and visually innovative science-fiction films ever made while maintaining an enigmatic non-linear storyline. He voluntarily withdrew his film A Clockwork Orange from England, after it was accused of inspiring copycat crimes which in turn resulted in threats against Kubrick's family. His films were largely successful at the box-office, although Barry Lyndon performed poorly in the United States. Living authors Anthony Burgess and Stephen King were both unhappy with Kubrick's adaptations of their novels A Clockwork Orange and The Shining respectively, and both authors were engaged with subsequent adaptations. All of Kubrick's films from the mid-1950s to his death except for The Shining were nominated for Oscars, Golden Globes, or BAFTAs. Although he was nominated for an Academy Award as a screenwriter and director on several occasions, his only personal win was for the special effects in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Even though all of his films, apart from the first two, were adapted from novels or short stories, his works have been described by Jason Ankeny and others as "original and visionary". Although some critics, notably Andrew Sarris and Pauline Kael, frequently disparaged Kubrick's work, Ankeny describes Kubrick as one of the most "universally acclaimed and influential directors of the postwar era" with a "standing unique among the filmmakers of his day."
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Now we have an air assault on the country of Libya. President Obama authorized this attack ostensibly to curtail the assault led by Col. Muammar Gaddafi on those within his own country who seek his ouster. Here we go again around a very familiar wheel. Let us assume, for arguments sake, that the ostensible reasons for this warlike behavior are true. These sophisticated weapons are incredible devices, the products of an advanced technology, constructed for one purpose – destruction. Cruise missiles and bombs have no moral imperative, exhibit no remorse, and demonstrate no reluctance; they merely follow the laws of physics and carry out, meticulously, their programmed instructions. If they should collide with a bus filled with school children, or a school, or a train filled with passengers, or a wedding party, or a market place filled with shoppers and deliver their deadly munitions, so be it. Fighter pilots, likewise have been trained to follow their precise orders. Those who have shown any reluctance have, of course, been culled from the ranks. Should their ordinance go astray and incinerate innocent people, this is not construed as killing, but simply as regrettable mistakes. In military parlance, such outcomes are referred to as collateral damage.
The questions I pose are simple ones – why do we allow ourselves to accept this violence as appropriate; why is any collateral damage acceptable? Furthermore, why is the death of a soldier in the field, obeying his own commander’s instructions, from devices that he has no defense against and from an enemy he cannot see, acceptable? These horrendous acts are deemed acceptable; because the stated goal seems to conform to what we believe is right and moral. It is, in essence, a defense of morality using methods employing acts of deadly force. War has become permissible, for we have become a warlike people. We cherish and pay homage to our arsenal of weaponry; we spend a lion-share of our national resources on the military while our people suffer from neglect and from unnecessary hardships. Our history is replete with the use of violence to resolve conflict, to oppress an entire people within our own borders, to decimate the native population to propel our own material interests, to control the destinies of other nations by forceful means. It is what we have become.
This reality exists; because, we permit it. This is our history; because, we implicitly accept this definition of our country and, more importantly, ourselves. If the idea of violence as a viable method to resolve conflict is to be uprooted, we need to change the paradigm.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Both of his parents are from Norway and his father and paternal grandfather were physicians. His mother’s maiden name was Helga Homboe. Galtung has been married twice, and has two children by his first wife Ingrid Eide, and two by his second wife Fumiko Nishimura.
Galtung lived through the German occupation of Norway during World War II as a young and impressionable boy. When he was only twelve years old, he was present when the Nazi’s arrested his father. His direct experience with the horrors associated with war, convinced him to devote his professional energies to the cause of peace. As a matter of fact, in 1951 he chose to do 18 months of social service instead of the mandatory military service. After twelve months of such service, he insisted that the remainder of his obligation be spent working directly for peace. He was sent to prison, and spent the remaining six months in confinement.
Upon receiving his Master of Arts degree, Galtung moved to Columbia University, in New York City, where he was an assistant professor in the Department of Sociology. Determined to work for peace, he returned to Oslo in 1959 where he founded the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO). Under his guidance as the Institute’s Director, it grew into an independent research institute and became eligible for government funding. In addition, the Journal of Peace Research was established as a result of his efforts.
Once the institute was well under way, he accepted a position as professor of peace and conflict research at the University of Oslo. He then served as the director general of the International University Centre in Dubrovnik, and also was the president of the World Future Studies Federation. He subsequently was invited to other universities located in such diverse places as Santiago, Chile, the United Nations University in Geneva, Columbia and Princeton universities in the United States and the University of Hawaii. In 1993, he co-founded "Transcend - A Peace, Development and Environment Network," an organization dedicated to resolve conflicts through peaceful means. This organization was created for the purpose of directly applying the principles he developed; some of which will be described below.
Galtung has persisted over the years in his pursuit of understanding the nature of human conflict and ways to peace. He learned to apply his academic knowledge in the fields of mathematics and sociology to this pursuit. He has become a renowned theoretician in regards to conflict resolution through peaceful means. He has attempted to deconstruct the origins of human conflict and conflict resolution in order to devise painstaking and orderly techniques to meet the challenges that methodologies focused on peace invariably face.
Galtung has applied logical analysis to formulate pathways to achieve peaceful non-violent solutions to conflict. He has developed a series of paradigms to describe the process. He compares the path to peace to the path taken in medicine to understand the disease process and regain health. He refers to this as a process involving three stages – diagnosis, prognosis and therapy. He likens disease to violence, and proposes that creating peace involves two possible approaches – reducing violence regarded as a cure and avoiding violence regarded as prevention. Within this model, violence can be regarded as:
• Direct Violence
• Structural Violence – indirect, emanating from social structures such racism or sexism
• Cultural Violence – represented by repression and exploitation.
The motivating force behind such violence is, of course, power. Power can take many forms – cultural, economic, military and political. Peace policies can, likewise, take different routes. These dimensions echo the kinds of power enumerated – political, military, economic and cultural. Galtung also makes distinctions between what he refers to as Negative Peace versus Positive Peace. For example, negative peace in the economic realm would involve self-reliance, the use of local resources, etc.; whereas, positive peace would involve sharing externalities, horizontal exchange and South-South cooperation. Positive peace would be more inclusive and extend beyond the borders of local communities or state and would be global in dimension.
According to this approach, in order to successfully develop paths to peace it is important to understand what sustains war and what prompts people to kill. It is evident from recent human history that the political system of a country does not prevent it from using violence towards other sovereignties. For example, democratic countries have not inhibited their governments from being involved in slavery, colonialism and other belligerent activities. According to Galtung, an answer might be to, “democratize the inter-state system.” This would also apply to the arena of human rights.
Galtung is convinced that many of the factors that uphold war encompass patriarchy – rule by the male gender. In his view, males have a propensity towards violence to a much greater degree than females. To counter this tendency is exceedingly difficult since it has strong cultural dimensions as well as biological factors. He suggests that, “The struggle against the tendency of states to seek recourse to military power goes by way of alternatives that are more compelling.”
As to the issue of why people kill, he maintains that culture is a potent legitimizer of violence, but also has the potential to support the concept of peace rather than war. Religions or ideologies can either be the purveyors of violence or peace. Galtung delineates what he refers to as, “hard and soft” aspects of ideologies. The hard variety would tend to be more abstract and aloof from human experience; it would tend to invoke the concept of a chosen people. According to Galtung, this idea is particularly dangerous and essentially inimical to peace. The softer variety is more cognizant of the plight of humanity and more closely connected to the tangible nature of human existence and, therefore, more empathic. The major religions – Islam, Christianity and Judaism – are not monolithic in this regard, but have mixtures of both. Galtung is strongly convinced that we are all carriers of peace strategies.
In his pursuit of the study of peace, Galtung has come up with two overlapping definitions of peace:
• Peace is the absence and/or reduction of violence of all kinds
• Peace is the by its nature nonviolent and the result of “creative conflict transformation.”
The first definition is oriented towards violence; whereas, the second is directed towards conflict. From this starting point, peace work is involved in reducing violence through peaceful means, and peace studies delineate the conditions required for peace work. In addition, these definitions relate to social conditions; the study of peace is, therefore, a social science. It is apparent that Galtung used his professional grounding in mathematics and sociology to construct his approach towards the study of peace.
According to his paradigm, the study of peace involves three tiers – Data, Theories, Values. Data is collected from what is known and what can be measured. It is this data that are used to formulate theory. Values determine what is desired and what is rejected. The inclusion of values sets peace studies apart from other social sciences, for peace always is the desired outcome.
In regards to the diagnosis, prognosis and therapy approach to wellness as described earlier, the goal of intervention is to achieve a range of possible outcomes that can be exemplified by the following:
• Best outcome – cured but also left with a health benefit and therefore can lead to a very favorable prognosis
• Second Best - symptom free but not necessarily protected from recurrence
• Third Best – chronic, long-lasting but acceptable illness
• Fourth Best – Unacceptable illness but alive.
There are obvious limitations in applying this approach to implementing peace, but according to Galtung it can be used as a reliable model in the study of peace in the following way:
• Diagnosis – refers to states of violence
• Prognosis – refers to the progression of violence through time i.e. increase, decrease or stays the same
• Therapy – equivalent to peace work.
Within this model, violence can be categorized in the following ways:
• Nature violence- originating in nature
• Direct violence – perpetrated by human beings either individually or within the broader context of society
• Structural violence – indirect violence built into social structures and essentially unintended
• Cultural violence – legitimizes structural violence
• Time violence – violence having negative impact of future generations.
In addition, therapy can take two distinct forms – violence reduction or negative peace and life enhancement or positive peace. Although this kind of study of peace may seem cumbersome and appear to be merely an academic exercise, it affords a reliable and predictable approach to the overall understanding of human conflict and its resolution through peaceful means.
Galtung used his approach to analyze the methodologies of Mahatma Gandhi who he described as, “the leading theoretician and practitioner of nonviolence. He also described him as a puritan in his approaches to conflict resolution. According to Gandhi, nonviolence is a struggle against both direct and structural violence and, by its nature, avoids such violence in the struggle itself. Gandhi relied on satyagraha – a term that can be defined as truth force – and, accordingly, there is no way to peace; rather, peace is the way.
Furthermore, Galtung determined that Gandhi’s process involves disintegration so that non-cooperation becomes essential; integration or all-inclusiveness so that there are no boundaries such as gender, race, class etc.; compromise for the purpose of affecting a remedy over a shorter period of time; transcendence so that what previously seemed incompatible becomes viewed as compatible. Gandhi was also an optimist who saw the potential of the ultimate integration of all of humankind into the fabric of peace.
In Galtung’s mind, the search for peace is a road to transcendence where the usual path of social disintegration – Conflict, Polarization and ultimately Violence and War – can be upended by preventive therapy. The goal would be to transform violent culture to peace culture and violent structure to peace structure. The peace narrative involves the transformation to peace through depolarization of attitudes, culture and ultimately behavior. Johan Galtung has taken a theoretical approach to achieving peace and social justice and has made a significant contribution to our understanding of the roots of conflict and pathways to viable peace and social justice.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
World Water Day has been observed on March 22 since 1993 when the United Nations General Assembly declared March 22 as World Day for Water.
This day was first formally proposed in Agenda 21 of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Observance began in 1993 and has grown significantly ever since; for the general public to show support, it is encouraged for the public to not use their taps throughout the whole day, the day has become a popular Facebook trend.
In addition to the UN member states, a number of NGOs promoting clean water and sustainable aquatic habitats have used World Day for Water as a time to focus public attention on the critical water issues of our era. Participating agencies and NGOs have highlighted issues such as a billion people being without access to safe water for drinking and the role of gender in family access to safe water.
Water is an essential resource for life and good health. A lack of water to meet daily needs is a reality today for one in three people around the world.
Globally, the problem is getting worse as cities and populations grow, and the needs for water increase in agriculture, industry and households.
This fact file highlights the health consequences of water scarcity, its impact on daily life and how it could impede international development. It urges everyone to be part of efforts to conserve and protect the resource. (WHO water facts)
Monday, March 21, 2011
These are energies associated with one's own energy and life force that
sometimes exist on the same plane
(like two humans who fall in love and spend their lives' together)
and sometimes exist on alternate planes of reality
(like my what people often refer to as his/her "Guardian Angel")
and are always interconnected because they are somehow involved in one anothers' lives, most often to help one another through their relative states of being.
All of this sounds so technical.
the moral of the story,or what I believe, essentially
is that existance is composed of many different beings experiencing many different corresponding but different journeys at approximately the same relative time,
and that those existances tend to overlap and intertwine with one another...
and so it can only be assumed that that interference is felt on many different levels and only when that connection is cherished will existance become intentional and positive, on the whole.
Thesis: neccesity and positives of obtaining a "the whole" soon to come.
Sunday, March 20, 2011
Saturday, March 19, 2011
The Art of Peace begins with you. Work on yourself and your appointed task in the Art of Peace. Everyone has a spirit that can be refined, a body that can be trained in some manner, a suitable path to follow. You are here for no other purpose than to realize your inner divinity and manifest your innate enlightenment. Foster peace in your own life and then apply the Art to all that you encounter.
All things, material and spiritual, originate from one source and are related as if they were one family. The past, present, and future are all contained in the life force. The universe emerged and developed from one source, and we evolved through the optimal process of unification and harmonization.
The Art of Peace is medicine for a sick world. There is evil and disorder in the world because people have forgotten that all things emanate from one source. Return to that source and leave behind all self-centered thoughts, petty desires, and anger. Those who are possessed by nothing possess everything. (read more)
Morihei Ueshiba (植芝 盛平, December 14, 1883 – April 26, 1969) was a famous martial artist and founder of the Japanese martial art of aikido. He is often referred to as "the founder" Kaiso (開祖?) or Ō sensei (大先生/翁先生?), "Great Teacher".
The real birth of Aikido came as the result of three instances of spiritual awakening that Ueshiba experienced. The first happened in 1925, after Ueshiba had defeated a naval officer's bokken (wooden katana) attacks unarmed and without hurting the officer. Ueshiba then walked to his garden and had a spiritual awakening.
"...I felt the universe suddenly quake, and that a golden spirit sprang up from the ground, veiled my body, and changed my body into a golden one. At the same time my body became light. I was able to understand the whispering of the birds, and was clearly aware of the mind of God, the creator of the universe.
At that moment I was enlightened: the source of budo is God's love - the spirit of loving protection for all beings... Budo is not the felling of an opponent by force; nor is it a tool to lead the world to destruction with arms. True Budo is to accept the spirit of the universe, keep the peace of the world, correctly produce, protect and cultivate all beings in nature."
His second experience occurred in 1940 when,
"Around 2am as I was performing misogi, I suddenly forgot all the martial techniques I had ever learned. The techniques of my teachers appeared completely new. Now they were vehicles for the cultivation of life, knowledge, and virtue, not devices to throw people with."
His third experience was in 1942 during the worst fighting of WWII, Ueshiba had a vision of the "Great Spirit of Peace".
"The Way of the Warrior has been misunderstood. It is not a means to kill and destroy others. Those who seek to compete and better one another are making a terrible mistake. To smash, injure, or destroy is the worst thing a human being can do. The real Way of a Warrior is to prevent such slaughter - it is the Art of Peace, the power of love." (read more)
(Morihei Ueshiba in 1935)
Friday, March 18, 2011
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Godzilla (ゴジラ, Gojira?) is a daikaijū, a Japanese movie monster, first appearing in Ishirō Honda's 1954 film Godzilla. Since then, Godzilla has gone on to become a worldwide pop culture icon starring in 28 films produced by Toho Co., Ltd.
With the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki still fresh in the Japanese consciousness, Godzilla was conceived as a monster created by nuclear detonations and a metaphor for nuclear weapons in general. As the film series expanded, the stories took on less serious undertones portraying Godzilla in the role of a hero, while later movies returned to depicting the character as a destructive monster.
Although his origins vary somewhat from film to film, he is always described as a prehistoric creature, who first appeared and attacked Japan at the beginning of the Atomic Age. In particular, mutation due to atomic radiation is presented as an explanation for his size and powers. The most notable of Godzilla's resulting abilities is his atomic breath: a powerful heat ray of fire from his mouth.
Godzilla is one of the most recognizable symbols of Japanese popular culture worldwide and remains an important facet of Japanese films, embodying the kaiju subset of the tokusatsu genre. He has been considered a filmographic metaphor for the United States, as well as an allegory of nuclear weapons in general. The earlier Godzilla films, especially the original, portrayed Godzilla as a frightening, nuclear monster. Godzilla represented the fears that many Japanese held about the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the possibility of recurrence. (read more) (godzilla trailer) (nuclear boy)
This is a message to every UK police man and woman before the Anti Cuts Demonstration in London on March 26th
“Before the possibility that on the March 26th London demonstration MET police are ordered to kettle us; use their shields as a weapon, or even draw their baton please remember that we are your teachers, your nurses and doctors, your neighbours, your checkout assistant, your child’s best friend’s parent, the disabled, the elderly, the students and the children. We are all here to stand against cuts that affect us all, you included.
We are all marching to say we oppose EVERY cut. Many of us are marching to try to protect our children’s future; knowing that without changes our children can never afford to go into further education; could you afford for your child to go to university on your wages? These cuts in public spending are going to affect everyone who is not either a banker or politician, or has a similar wage packet as either. And to make matters worse, this all comes at a time when the cost of food, fuel, and gas, and electric are rising, when youth unemployment is higher than it has ever been; when thousands face losing their jobs and homes as a result of these cuts.
This government uses the word ‘fair’ to describe what they are doing to our society, yet is it fair that this government indulges in “legitimate” criminal activities? Stealing tax payers money and giving it to corporations to run our services and makes the poor and hard-working pay? Is it fair that huge companies get away without paying their taxes; the tax that Boots alone evade could stop the cuts on the NHS, the £7 billion tax Vodaphone evades could help thousands of families get out of the poverty trap. The tax that banks such as Barclays evades could be spent on police funding and so much more. Billions more is avoided by Tesco and Amazon on their offshore tax havens. All of this money could be used to pay of this country’s debt, while not making one single cut to public spending.
The government is saying these cuts are necessary, but they are not. We are told that we ‘are all in this together’ but so far the widely supported Robin Hood tax is not being implemented. The legal loopholes that allow individuals and companies to evade millions even billions in tax have not yet been closed. We are told that it is spending on welfare, the NHS, the police force, local councils that are to blame for the financial position our country finds itself in; but it is the tax avoiders, the corporations and the banks who are REALLY responsible for this debt; as they suck out money from the system into tax havens and hidden accounts and avoid tax. They remain unchallenged by government, who are working to give them even more control over the things in our communities that matter.
How can we afford to lose the tax payers’ public sector; the things that protect us, that we pay for; the NHS, the schools, the libraries, the nurseries, elderly care services, the police on our streets, the rape crisis centres, the voluntary and community organisations; just so that already greed-driven corporations can get their claws into our tax-payer state, then be paid by us to run vital services badly. Once these changes are made it is very unlikely we will be ever able to go back to the things that mattered. The corporations, the banks and stock-market racketeers continue to get fatter salaries, bigger bonuses, larger investments while the poor and weak struggle to survive. . That is why we are fighting these cuts and we are asking YOU to join us, we are at a crucial, historical moment.
We all understand that you have to uphold the law; that is your job. What we are all asking is for you to allow us to march, not kettle and beat us. We are peaceful protesters in the main; many of us are mothers who are bringing our children with us as these cuts affect them too. We are marching to tell our politicians that we are NOT going to pay for their mistakes any longer. It would be amazing if you joined us like the police in Wisconsin did when faced with a similar situation.
We are marching to protect your jobs too!
Please, join the people. The people who care about this country!
With love and solidarity, the concerned, peaceful, law-abiding citizens of Britain”
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
In the 1890s Freda Fromhart grew up in the forests north of Lake Superior. It was a harsh and hostile environment. The forty acres of land that she and her parents lived on were secured under the Homestead Act. Her family had emigrated from the Black Forest of Germany. Freda met Tom Berrigan at a local dance. They were married on June 21, 1911. They were Catholics who were influenced by a Catholic priest who was an uncompromising advocate of tolerance. The Berrigans emigrated from Ireland during the potato famine. Between 1845 and 1849, some three million Irish came to the United States to flee horrific conditions in their homeland. The Berrigans settled in South Onondaga, New York. In 1879, Tom's father suffered a horrible death. This experience took its toll on the son.
Daniel and Philip Berrigan, the sons of Tom and Freda, were born on May 9, 1921 and October 5, 1923, respectively, in Two Harbors, Minnesota. Their father was given to fits of horrible rages, self-pity and confusing bursts of affection.
The family lived in the humblest of circumstances. They lived in a tar-paper shack in a desolately cold and hostile climate. Their father drove steam engines across Northern Minnesota; a job that took him away from home for weeks at a time. The Berrigan brothers were two of six boys, of which Daniel, the fifth born, was the least robust; a reality that did not please his father, but gained his mother's protection.
Daniel entered Catholic seminary at age 18. The Church offered a kind of solace and order to his existence. He entered St. Andrew's on the Hudson Seminary in Poughkeepsie, New York. The seminary was run by the Society of Jesus – Jesuits. Daniel had always demonstrated a love of books and poetry. This proclivity was probably instrumental in his choice of the Jesuits on account of their reputation for serious achievement and academic excellence. Daniel grew up in a working class environment and his professional choices were few; the priesthood, therefore, offered him away to pursue his academic interests.
His mother, Freda was torn by son's leaving. For the next fifteen years he was involved in what was referred to as "training." He compared this experience to birth. It was an austere and demanding life – profoundly satisfying to him. It provided a strong sense of belonging. While Daniel was in the seminary, his brother, Philip, was finishing high school.
When Fascism had begun to overwhelm Europe under the crazed leadership of German Chancellor Adolf Hitler, The Berrigans were your men. Philip served in World War II as an artillery man during the Battle of the Bulge (1945). He was profoundly influenced by the violence that he witnessed firsthand. Daniel, for his part, was deeply concerned by the fact that the Church had not responded adequately to the challenge of fascism; it was docile and self-serving during Hitler's reign. This further convinced him that he needed to become more directly involved in social issues. His brother, Philip, was also deeply impacted by the racism that he experience directly from Army boot camps located in the American South.
In 1954, Daniel was called to serve in France. This experience exposed him to priests who were very active in their local communities and attracted him to the idea of the "worker-priest." Philip went onto college; he enrolled in the small Catholic college of St. Michael's in Toronto. He was drafted into the army in 1943 as was described previously. On his return from the war, Philip came back as a changed man determined to address what he felt was the twin horrors of war and racism. He was scarred by the war and profoundly influenced by plight of black Americans in the American South, who were forced to live under the oppressive conditions imposed by Jim Crow. Using the benefits of the GI Bill that was enacted to offer assistance to those veterans returning from war, Philip entered Holy Cross College. It was here that he began to consider moral action based on conscience. He graduated in 1950 and joined the Josephite Seminary. A Josephite is a member of the St. Joseph's Society of the Sacred Heart formed in 1871 in Baltimore, Maryland devoted to missionary work among black Americans. In this role, he became intimately involved in the Civil Rights Movement. In this capacity, he felt he could make a difference.
Philip was an exciting, admired and a stimulating teacher at Loyola University in New Orleans, a Catholic university. He was regarded as a charismatic leader determined to work for the common good. He also had an outgoing and contagious personality. In 1957, Archbishop Romell mandated the integration of the Catholic institutions of Archdiocese of New Orleans. Philip's students asked how they could help. In response, Philip suggested that they should go to the nearest Catholic Church to serve as a witness. They attended an all-white church where they were cursed and threatened. Sometime later some of the contingent were jumped and beaten by enraged whites with tire irons.
Daniel was teaching at Brooklyn Prep where he felt terribly stifled. He was later hired as Assistant Professor of Dogmatic Theology. There he encouraged his students to investigate the slum housing conditions that existed in Syracuse. As a consequence, his students uncovered an uncomfortable relationship between the college and local landlords. As a consequence, some called for his resignation. Daniel got into further trouble for supporting a vocal pacifist and war resister. He founded the International House off campus with the purpose of serving as a gathering place for students whose interests coincided with moral discussions, inner-city activism, social work and possible tours of duty in developing nations.
Eventually, the passions and activism of the Berrigan brothers come together. Between the years of 1960 through 1963, Daniel dispatched his students to his brother Philip to assist the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in its civil rights campaigns. In 1963, the brothers were invited to join with other clergy in an attempt to integrate the facilities at the Jackson, Mississippi airport. There they were to meet with James Farmer of CORE to plan a strategy. They realized that their involvement might result in physical beatings and jail time. Bishop Jackson, who was Daniel's superior, fearing retaliation against the local churches, prohibited Daniel from going. Daniel sought guidance from his mentor Thomas Merton, author of the famous theological and philosophical work, Seven Story Mountain. Merton advised him to follow his superior's wishes, but to persist in his wider mission. Daniel ultimately obeyed his superior. His brother, Philip, as a Josephite, continued to confront Jim Crow in the South and got involved in the distribution of food and clothing. Philip's continued activist and confrontational involvement both in the civil rights movement and as an outspoken critic in the 1960s resulted in his forced transfer from his community. He was also told to maintain public silence regarding the Vietnam War. He did not maintain this silence for long. He continued to draw parallels between war and racism. He joined with SANE and CORE to speak out against the U.S. military intervention in Southeast Asia.
It was the Gulf of Tonkin affair that was the turning point in the U.S. involvement in Vietnam; President Lyndon Johnson used this spurious incident to justify the continuation and acceleration of the war. This new reality solidified the Berrigan brothers' opposition to the conflict. In addition, the attitude of African-Americans towards their continued oppression shifted to greater militancy as exemplified by the rise in influence of Malcolm X. The Watts riots of 1965 further added to national uncertainty. Catholic Workers, who represented the progressive wing of the Catholic Church founded in 1933 by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin, became more involved in the anti-war activities with a number of their members burning themselves alive in protest much like their Buddhist counterparts in Vietnam. One of these was Roger LaPorte. Daniel did know LaPorte; as a consequence, Bishop Cardinal Spellman attempted to have Daniel expelled from the Archdiocese of New York. As a compromise he was sent to Chile. There, he did some significant soul searching.
The following are some of the well-known involvements of the Berrigans in the anti-war effort.
On October 27,1967, the Baltimore Four (Philip Berrigan, artist Tom Lewis, poet, teacher and writer David Eberhardt and United Church of Christ (UCC) pastor Rev. James L Mengel) poured blood on the selective service records in the Baltimore Customs House. In their defense they stated that, "This sacrificial and constructive act is meant to protest the pitiful waste of American and Vietnamese blood in Indochina." They were subsequently sentenced to six years in prison.
On May 17, 1968 nine Catholic men and women including the Berrigan brothers entered the Selective Services offices in Catonsville, Maryland. They proceeded to remove hundreds of draft records and ceremonially burned them with homemade napalm in protest of the war. In defense of their actions, they released the following statement, "We confront the Roman Catholic Church, other Christian bodies, and the synagogues of America with their silence and cowardice in the face of our country's crimes. We are convinced that the religious bureaucracy in this country is racist, is an accomplice in this war, and is hostile to the poor."
On September 9, 1980, Berrigan, his brother Daniel, and six others (the "Plowshares Eight") began the Plowshares Movement when they entered the General Electric Nuclear Missile Re-entry Division in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania where nose cones for the Mark 12A warheads were made. They hammered on two nose cones, poured blood on documents and offered prayers for peace. They were arrested and initially charged with over ten different felony and misdemeanor counts. On April 10, 1990, after nearly ten years of trials and appeals, the Plowshares Eight were re-sentenced and paroled for up to 23 and 1/2 months in consideration of time already served in prison. A documentary was made about this action called "In the King of Prussia" by Emile D'Antonio. Since this action over seventy Plowshares actions have taken place around the world against weapons of war, several involving Philip Berrigan himself.
Philip left the priesthood in 1973 and went on to marry Elizabeth McAlister. Together they founded the Jonah House in Baltimore to support war resistors. Their three children, Frida, Jerry and Kate all grew up to be anti-war activists. He died on December 6, 2002. His brother Daniel remains an ardent advocate of peace and social justice. Daniel now resides in New York City, teaches at Fordham University and is its poet in residence. These brothers have left behind a rich and often controversial legacy in regards to non-violent social action. They certainly drew attention to the horrors of the Vietnam War in particular and the dangers inherent in the stockpiling of weapons of mass destruction.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
In a society which is predicated on competition,
and really often the ruthless exploitation of
one human being by another, the profiteering
of other peoples problems, and very often
the creation of problems for the sole
purpose of profiteering, the ruling
ideology will very often justify
that behavior by appeals to some
fundamental and unalterable
human nature. So the myth
in our society is that
people are competitive
by nature and that they
and that they
Monday, March 14, 2011
Sunday, March 13, 2011
*Move the slider to compare satellite images, taken by GeoEye, from before and after the disaster.
Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and other underwater explosions (including detonations of underwater nuclear devices), landslides and other mass movements, meteorite ocean impacts or similar impact events, and other disturbances above or below water all have the potential to generate a tsunami.
The Greek historian Thucydides was the first to relate tsunami to submarine earthquakes, but the understanding of a tsunami's nature remained slim until the 20th century and is the subject of ongoing research. Many early geological, geographical, and oceanographic texts refer to tsunamis as "seismic sea waves." (read more)
Saturday, March 12, 2011
THAT (REAL) OLD TIME RELIGION
Give me that Old Time Religion,
Give me that Old Time Religion,
Give me that Old Time Religion ...
It's good enough for me!
We will worship Aphrodite,
'Though she's kind of wild and flighty -
We will see her in her 'nighty
And that's good enough for me!
We'll sing praises to Apollo;
Where the Sun God leads we'll follow
('Though his head's a little hollow) -
He's good enough for me!
With the aid of my athame
I can throw a "double-whammy"
(And can slice and dice salami!)
So it's good enough for me.
It was good enough for Buddha,
As a god he kinda cute-a,
And he comes in brass or pewta'
So he's good enough for me!
We all worshipped Dionysus
'Till we ran into a crisis -
The bar had raised its prices;
That's not good enough for me.
We will worship like the Druids
And drink strange, fermented fluids
And run naked through the woods
'Cause that's good enough for me!
We will go and sing "Hosanna"
To our good ol' pal, Gotamma.
He will never flim or flam ya',
And that's good enough for me!
We will finally pray to Jesus
From our sins we hope he frees us
Eternal life he guarantees us
And that's good enough for me!
It was good enough for Isis,
'Cause she comes through in a crisis
And she's never raised her prices
So she's good enough for me.
There are some that call it folly
When we worship Mother Kali.
She may not be very jolly
But she's good enough for me.
Shall we sing in praise of Loki,
Though he left poor Midgard smokey?
Oh, his sense of humor's hokey,
But he's good enough for me.
It was good enough for Loki,
The old Norse god of chaos,
Which is why this verse doesn't rhyme,
But it's good enough for me!
Montezuma liked to start out
Rites by carrying a part out
That would really tear your heart out,
But it's good enough for me!
It was good enough for Odin
Though the tremblin' got forbodin'
Then the giants finally strode in,
But it's good enough for me.
There's that lusty old Priapus -
He's just itching to unwrap us.
(He'd do more to us than tap us
And that's good enough for me!)
Shall we sing a verse for Thor,
Though he leaves the maidens sore?
They always come back for more,
So he's good enough for me!
It was good enough for Venus,
Of the Gods she is the meanest
And she bit me on my ... elbow
But she's good enough for me!
There are those who practice Voodoo,
There are those who practice Voodoo,
I know I do, I hope you do -
It's good enough for me.
We will go to worship Zeus
Though his morals are quite loose
He gave Leda quite a goose
And he's good enough for me!
(see entire lyrics)
Friday, March 11, 2011
In terms of an historic perspective, Agha Mohammad Khan, the leader of the Qajars, unified present day Iran in 1794 by eliminating all of his enemies. Ebadi’s father, Mohammad Ali Ebadi, was the head of Hamedan’s Registry Office at the time of Ebadi’s birth. He had written several books in his field and was a known lecturer. He was chosen to be the Deputy Minister of Agriculture under the Shah; as a consequence of this promotion, the family moved to Tehran. Ebadi was one years old at the time. Ebadi’s parents were married in 1941 in a traditional Iranian ceremony. Her mother, Minu was a devoted wife and mother; she was beset however, with mental and medical problems – she showed the symptoms of paranoia and suffered from asthma. Her father passed away in 1993.
Ebadi was educated at the Firuzhkuhi primary school and went on to Anoshiravn Dadgar and Reza Shah Kabir secondary schools. Ultimately she received her law degree from the University of Tehran in 1968. In March of 1969 she began her career as a trial judge. In addition, she held a number of positions in the Justice Department, and in 1975 became the President of Bench 24 in Tehran City Court. It is interesting to note that she was the first woman in Iranian history to have served as a judge.
Ebadi and her family lived through the Islamic Revolution that culminated in 1979 in the formation of a state governed by Sharia Law. The transition to this revolutionary leadership had a profound effect upon her, her family and her career. As a consequence of the changes invoked by the new authority, she was ultimately dismissed from her judgeship and offered a position as a clerk on account of the fact that she is a woman. She refused to countenance this change and applied for early retirement and was granted this option. Not to be easily dissuaded, she submitted an application to practice law; she was initially turned down until 1992 when she finally succeeded in obtaining a law license.
Recognizing the harsh injustices that became apparent following the Islamic Revolution, Ebadi refused to be quiet. Since her personal life in particular and the role of women in Iran in general had been so seriously impacted by the imposition of Sharia Law, it would, therefore, be germane to examine the events that led up to this profound political and cultural revolution.
In the early twentieth century, the government of Iran was experiencing the onslaught of modernization that was exerting its effects throughout the world. Britain and Russia had considerable influence; although, they did not colonize the country. In 1905, violent student protests led to the formation of the first Majlis – National Assembly - and in 1906 this body met to create a Constitution. The Shah died and the new king promulgated the Supplementary Fundamental Law. This law and the document that was the product of deliberations of the Majlis became the essence of the Iranian Constitution. Fearful that the newly constituted Majlis would accrue too much power, the Russians invaded the country, and dissolved the Majlis. Although the constitution and parliament survived, their powers were significantly curtailed.
At the beginning of World War I, the Iranian economy was in disastrous condition. As a result, by 1921 Reza Khan entered Tehran with troops, took control of the military, and by 1923 he became its Prime Minister. As a consequence, the Shah from the Qajar Dynasty abdicated and Reza Khan named himself Shah and created the Pahlavi Dynasty. During his reign, many progressive reforms were instituted and he even banned the veil worn by traditionalist women. These changes were welcomed by what constituted the middle and upper classes. To many, however, these changes were met with severe disapproval; they were viewed as incompatible with the teachings of the Koran.
World War II brought into play new political forces. The British and Russians occupied Iran, for they needed oil to sustain the war effort. As a consequence, Reza Shah was forced to abdicate in 1941, and he was replaced by his son, Mohammad Reza, who was found to be more maleable in the eyes of the occupiers. The British needed access to the vast oil reserves of the Persian Gulf and needed a local ruler that they could more effectively control. Although the young Shah had the support of the rich landowners and clerics, he proved to be a weak ruler.
In 1949, Mohammed Mosadegh formed the National Front Party (NFP) with the intended objective of living up to the 1906 constitution. He became involved in the ambitious and controversial goal of nationalizing the oil industry. At that time the British company, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company was making more money from oil than the Iranian government. Under popular pressure, the Shah appointed Mosadegh as Prime Minister. In response, the British removed its technicians and attempted to impose a worldwide embargo on Iranian oil. The British also attempted to take its position to the International Court of Justice at the Hague. The court, however, found in favor of Iran. Mosadegh’s power and influence continued to grow. He reduced the term of the National Assembly to two years and ultimately removed the legislative body. These events made the government of the United States, under the leadership of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, very uneasy, especially in the midst of the Cold War.
In 1953 Mosadegh was overthrown and replaced by the Shah, whose former power was reinstated. It was later discovered that The CIA was deeply involved in the plot to unseat Mosadegh in an operation referred to as Ajax. Mosadegh was deemed to be a threat on account of his leftist political leanings. The Anglo-Iranian oil company had been expelled from the country some nine months earlier. According to Kermit Roosevelt in his book entitled, Countercoup: the Struggle for the Control of Iran (this book was deemed so “dangerous” that McGraw Hill was persuaded by British Petroleum to recall all the books from the book stores), Anglo-Iranian oil proposed the overthrow of the Iranian Premier. Initially, Mosadegh fled the country and was later put under house arrest until his death. Ebadi was a young girl attending grade school when these momentous events unfolded.
In 1963, the Shah announced the so-called “White Revolution.” His intention was to speed the transition of an essentially agrarian society to an industrial base. The changes that he imposed deeply disturbed the conservative clerics. Among these changes, women were given the right to vote. The minimal age for legal marriage for women rose to 18 and the divorce laws were liberalized. Many women from upper and middle-class backgrounds subsequently entered the workforce.
Ruhollah Khomeini, a conservative cleric, was so distraught and angered by these changes that he organized an uprising against the White Revolution. The Shah, responding to this threat, had Khomeini expelled from the country and sent to Najaf, Iraq. This happened on the same year as Mosadegh’s death. At that time Mosadegh was beloved by his countrymen and anti-American sentiment was deeply entrenched in the hearts and minds of the population.
The Shah continued to pursue a policy of accelerated development and growth; in cities such as Tehran; development proceeded at a fevered pace. Traditionalists were deeply troubled by these changes, fearing that Western values were being imposed upon them. The clerics were angered by these events, for they felt that their power and influence were being eroded.
In January, 1978 President Jimmy Carter visited Iran, and was shown on television drinking champagne with the Shah. This seemingly innocuous event, sent shockwaves throughout the nation, for it was the first time a Muslim leader was seen drinking alcohol on television; the drinking of alcohol is forbidden under Islam. In response, angry protestors marched on the shrine in the holy city of Qom; the government sent in the military and protestors were killed. As a consequence, the pent-up frustrations of many Iranians were released and an open struggle between the clerics and the Shah began. All of this came to a bloody climax when the government sent tanks to quell the demonstrations at Zhaleh Square in Tehran; as a result, 600 protestors were killed. This day became known as Black Friday. At the behest of the Shah, Saddam Hussein expelled Khomeini from Iraq; he took refuge in France. From there, he directed the opposition. Facing overwhelming opposition from the people of Iran, the Shah finally fled Iran on January 16, 1979. And on February 1, 1979, Khomeini left his wife behind and flew to Tehran. When he touched down on Iranian soil, he was greeted by millions of supporters. He immediately appointed Mehdi Bazargan as prime minister of the provisional government, and on March 1979, the Islamic Republic of Iran came to fruition. After 2500 years, the Iranian monarchy had been abolished – a remarkable and historic event. Khomeini went on to create the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution, and its members began the process of the setup a new government. When the newly created constitution was presented to the Council of Experts – dominated by Shia clergy – they were not happy with the essentially secular nature of the document and proceeded to make it more Islamic. Ultimately, under Khomeini’s guiding hand, a new doctrine was formulated, Velayat-e-Faqih – rule by jurisprudence. This essentially gave Khomeini more power than the Shah ever had.
As an Iranian lawyer, human rights activist and founder of Centre for the Defense of Human Rights in Iran, Ebadi wrote several books and had many articles published in Iranian journals. She became involved in many troubling cases as the defense attorney. Among them, she represented the families Dariush and Parvaneh Foruhar) and Ezzat Ebrahiminejad, who were killed during the attack on the university dormitory by a serial killer. She also took on a large number of child abuse cases. As a result of these experiences, she helped to found a children’s rights organization.
She also represented the mother of Mrs. Zahra Kazemi, a photojournalist killed in Iran. According to Ebadi, involvement in such high-profile cases radically changed her perspective and she became actively engaged in the human rights movement. She wrote an article for Iran-e Farda in which she decried the way Iranian law treats women. This article became wildly popular and the authorities found her to be a threat and wanted to silence her. In the defense of one case in particular, she was sent off to prison. She was eventually released.
On October 10, 2003, Ebadi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize In 2009, Ebadi's award was allegedly confiscated by the Iranian authorities; this allegation was later denied by the Iranian government. If true, she would be the first person in the history of the Nobel Prize whose award has been forcibly seized by state authorities.
The following is an excerpt from her Nobel Prize Acceptance speech; it provides some insight into her character and unwavering support of peace and social justice.
“Today coincides with the 55th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; a declaration which begins with the recognition of the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family, as the guarantor of freedom, justice and peace. And it promises a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of expression and opinion, and be safeguarded and protected against fear and poverty.
“Unfortunately, however, this year's report by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), as in the previous years, spells out the rise of a disaster which distances mankind from the idealistic world of the authors of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 2002, almost 1.2 billion human beings lived in glaring poverty, earning less than one dollar a day. Over 50 countries were caught up in war or natural disasters. AIDS has so far claimed the lives of 22 million individuals, and turned 13 million children into orphans.
“At the same time, in the past two years, some states have violated the universal principles and laws of human rights by using the events of 11 September and the war on international terrorism as a pretext. The United Nations General Assembly Resolution 57/219, of 18 December 2002, the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1456, of 20 January 2003, and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights Resolution 2003/68, of 25 April 2003, set out to underline that all states must ensure that any measures taken to combat terrorism must comply with all their obligations under international law, in particular international human rights and humanitarian law. However, regulations restricting human rights and basic freedoms, special bodies and extraordinary courts, which make fair adjudication difficult and at times impossible, have been justified and given legitimacy under the cloak of the war on terrorism.”
Ebadi has lived in exile in Canada since June 2009 due to the disturbing increase in persecution of Iranian citizens who are critical of the current regime. The story of the life of Sharin Ebadi to date is an extraordinary one; she exemplifies the influence an individual can exert when driven to shed light on injustice and demand meaningful change.