Monday, April 21, 2008

A Watershed Moment?

The Sunday New York Times Magazine was the "green" issue, packed with reading. This was in the "Live" article on lifestyles friendly to Creation:

'For years, Rabbi Julian Sinclair led a double life. He kept his two identities — as a yeshiva-trained Jewish scholar and a self-described economist and policy wonk schooled at Oxford and Harvard — apart. But the increasing portents of climate change convinced Sinclair that a religious response to what he calls “the biggest big-picture policy challenge we face today” is precisely what the world needs now. “The environmental movement has been overwhelmingly secular for 40 years and has achieved amazing things,” he says, “but it hasn’t yet figured out how to move people on a massive scale because it isn’t telling the right story.’ Sinclair says he believes that the “doom-laden apocalyptic narrative” favored by the mainstream environmental movement can paralyze rather than motivate necessary lifestyle adjustments. Conversely, he says religion — which has been “in the behavioral-change business for 3,000 years” — offers a distinct message of hope and boasts an impressive track record of moral persuasion: “There have been watershed moments when religion has barged into public life, blown away the windbaggery of politics-as-usual and declared with irresistible force, ‘This must change now!’ ” Following the lead of the popular “What Would Jesus Drive?” campaign from the Evangelical Environmental Network and Jewish sustainability organizations like Hazon (“Vision”), Sinclair helped found the Jewish Climate Initiative. He is also the author of the forthcoming book “The Green God,” in which he consults the world’s spiritual traditions for teachings about how humans can confront climate change. Regarding his own religion, Sinclair says Judaism regularly expresses spirituality through “mundane deeds that awaken deeper consciousness.” “If going to the bathroom can be a religiously meaningful act (there’s a blessing said after doing so), then switching to C.F.L. light bulbs can be, too,” he says. Still, the economist in him urges first things first: “Shifts in consciousness can take decades that we don’t have. Trade in the S.U.V. — then let’s talk about the sacredness of the earth.”'

And after reading this, I was taken out for a ride in a Dodge Viper convertible - not the most fuel-efficient car on the road...But I love the line that religion has been in the behavioural-change business for 3000 years.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Murder in Oaxaca

MONTREAL, April 9 /CNW Telbec/ - Reporters Without Borders is deeply
shocked by the fatal shooting on 7 April in Putla de Guerrero, in the southern
state of Oaxaca, of Teresa Bautista Flores, 24, and Felicitas Martinez, 20,
two women journalists working for La Voz que Rompe el Silencio ("The Voice
that Breaks the Silence"), a community radio station serving the Trique
indigenous community.
"Although there is so far no evidence that these two women were killed
because of their work as journalists, their murders will be traumatic for all
of Latin America's many community radio stations, which are too often ignored
or despised by the rest of the media and by governments," Reporters Without
Borders said.
"We are conscious of the risks run by the press in Oaxaca state, where
the political climate continues to be tense, where two journalists were killed
in 2006 at the height of a period of social unrest, and where other community
media have been attacked," the press freedom organisation continued. "We hope
the investigators quickly establish the circumstances and motives for this
double murder and catch those responsible. And we join their community in
paying tribute to the two victims."
La Voz que Rompe el Silencio was launched by the Trique indigenous
community in San Juan Copala (in the west of Oaxaca state) on 20 January, a
year after the locality was granted administrative autonomy. The community
appointed Bautista Flores and Martinez to manage and present the radio
station, which is dedicated to promoting indigenous culture.
The two young women were returning from doing a report in the
municipality of Llano Juarez in the early afternoon when they were ambushed
and, after being threatened with abduction, were finally shot with 7.62
calibre bullets of the kind used in AK-47 assault rifles, Reporters Without
Borders was told by CACTUS, an organisation that supports indigenous
communities. Investigators found 20 bullet casings at the scene. Three other
people were wounded in the shooting - Jaciel Vazquez, aged 3, and his parents.
"We are convinced the Oaxaca government was behind all this, with the
intention of dismantling municipal autonomy," a community spokesman told
CACTUS, which has called on the federal authorities to intervene.
The Mexican branch of the World Association of Community Radio
Broadcasters (AMARC) said there have been acts of violence against other small
radio stations belonging to indigenous groups in Oaxaca, such as Radio Nandia
in 2006 and Radio Calenda in 2007.
Two journalists were murdered in Oaxaca during a major wave of protests
against state governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz in 2006. They were independent
Indymedia cameraman Bradley Will, shot on 27 October 2006, and Raul Marcial
PĂ©rez, a indigenous community leader and columnist for the regional daily El
Grafico, who was shot on 8 December 2006.
No one was brought to justice for either of these murders, in which the
authorities curiously ruled out any possibility of their being linked to the
victims' work as journalists.

For further information: Katherine Borlongan, secretary general,
Reporters Without Borders, (514) 521-4111,