1. NEVER MENTION A BULLY

2. SKIP THE LIES AND FOCUS ON THE TRUTH,

3. REPEAT THE TRUTH OFTEN,  SIMPLY, IN PLAIN ENGLISH,

4. COMPLIMENT YOUR FRIENDS, THOSE YOU ADMIRE, EVEN YOUR OPPONENTS WHEN THEY MAKE VALID POINTS,

5. WHEN SOMEONE BULLIES YOU, SHOWER THEM WITH CARE AT FIRST, AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS ,

6. IF THEY PERSIST, CUT THEM OFF, SILENCE THEM, ELIMINATE THEM FROM YOUR PRESENCE, BUT DO NOT BECOME THEM OR STOOP TO THEIR LEVEL,

7. STOP CURSING, IT IS NOT DOING ANYONE ANY GOOD,

8. MAKE YOUR EVERY WORD EDUCATIONAL, INSTRUCTIONAL, FIND THE WORDS TO RISE BEYOND THIS TIME AND SPACE, SOMETHING LASTING, SOMETHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO HEAR FROM A HERO,

9. BE HEROIC, FOR THIS IS YOUR TIME IN HISTORY, AND THE OLD HEROES HAVE PASSED FROM THE SCENE,

10. OFFER HOPE, NOT FOOLISH DREAMS, BUT REALISTIC STEPS TOWARD SOMETHING, ANYTHING, BETTER.

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HIDDEN ALLIES IN THE CURRENT CRISIS

by mgopin on July 16, 2018 · 0 comments

I wonder who knows more about Apple’s astonishing move in China. Could it be that we are seeing resistance to Trump on multiple layers of society and that even the super elite, who we regularly bemoan for not directly fighting side by side for democracy, like Soros, are also in a state of war with each other over the madness that has overtaken the Republican Party, the most dangerous political organization on earth right now.

Think about this. In the middle of a tariff war caused solely by a leader engaged in possibly treasonous behavior, in the middle of a willful and bizarre destruction of all environmental American progress of 50 years that would only be undertaken by an enemy of the state, Apple, one of the backbones of the American global economy, makes a statement on trade and environment of this magnitude.
Maybe we the people are not the only ones fighting. Maybe our exhausting efforts are inspiring and in league with privileged elites.
We must continually form alliances to make this right, to make progress, to save modern democracy.

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There is hope if people on the Left and progressives admit how human it is and how human they are to be tribalistic, angry, suspicious and bigoted.

I am from the progressives, and at this stage of American history, there is no question that the lion’s share of actual violence, literal and structural, comes from the white nationalist Right.

But that does not mean that progressives are constructive, brilliant peacebuilders. They are not. Every step of the way progress in human rights has been focused on fighting and victories, not on reconciliation, not on building communities of trust, not on building a new society.

We just build monuments to beautiful words by Martin Luther King, summarily ignore those words, and go on with a tribalistic war.

Winning is through love not hate, winning is caring for your own as well as the stranger, winning is caring for very difficult people even as you resist the harm they do to the less fortunate, as well as the harm they do to themselves.

We have never been very good at this, but now Trump and many other unscrupulous people have made us so angry, so enraged, that we are aping their behavior in every way except violence.

We need to stop, we need to reach out to enemies and help.

People assume that the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament were just being pie-eyed and utopian, recommending caring for enemies. No, actually it was advanced strategy, that is still too advanced for most people in politics.

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DICTATORS AND OLIGARCHS

by mgopin on April 29, 2018 · 0 comments

Throughout history, there are no dictators without oligarchs.

The dictator is the puss pimple on top of the acne of oligarchy.

The system of war criminal justice is designed to deter a very specific kind of man who is inherently a narcissistic risk taker, who believes he is invincible, which means that some vague possibility of justice some day might become reality. But he always believes he will live on forever, or his family.

The oligarch is not a risk taker but a calculator, a blood hound for money, and a preference for money accrued legalistically but immorally off the backs of the unsuspecting who believe in the rule of law.

The laws of war crimes must evolve further. We need a guarantee based on international law that the vast fortunes of industrialists or oligarchs that supported war criminals, will in fact be given, to the last penny, over to the victims.

In this way, instead of trying to deter the few risk taking narcissistic megalomaniac men, we may begin to truly deter war by bringing it home to the bank accounts of the larger number of criminal oligarchs or industrialists.

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TURN BACK THE FILTH

by mgopin on March 23, 2018 · 0 comments

Feeling you can’t take all the filth around you? That the Trump world has made you feel dirty all over? Escape it all and do your bit to save the oceans, and us.

 

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Perhaps it is my imagination but it is my impression that the Democratic senior women of Congress are fighting like hell, while the senior Democratic men are sagging, compromising and capitulating to Trumpism.
It’s time to let the men know that we expect them to fight like hell just as much. They can seek allies, yes, especially among disaffected Republicans who are outraged by the corruption and treasonous behavior. But Democratic men must stand up to the criminal intentions of this administration. If Chuck Schumer wants to reach out to Republicans then let him reach out to the Bush’s, or McCain, or dozens of others.

It could be that women in politics get better under longterm pressure as underdogs. i am not sure. It is curious and worrisome that the men are flailing about. Misogyny is a contagious disease, and perhaps Trumpism is rubbing off, I don’t know. But I also wonder whether what happened to Al Franken created a deep division between men and women in Congress. i don’t know, but someone should be working on this because we will never get back the country divided, which is exactly what demagogues attempt to do, as they take over around the world, wound selectively, divide and demoralize democrats.

I have noticed that it is especially when the going gets rough historically that women rise in powerful determination. Not in the prosperous 1950s but yes in the the 1940s and wartime.  We are now in grave existential danger, and I think the senior political men feel utterly defeated and outsmarted, even stunned, by proto-fascist tactics and the Russian collusion. I saw the same look of defeat on the face of Jeb Bush during the primaries when he lost to a foul-mouthed bully with absolutely no substance to him, except fascist tactics.

Trump has managed to employ many  corrupt women, especially Devos and her horrible family’s impact on us, on war, on everything. At the same time, what intrigues me is that now that things have gotten so bad, it is women who are rising up inside and outside government. For sure part of it is that, despite the 50% or more of white women who voted for Trump, tens of millions understand that it is their freedom that are stake. Perhaps it is because more than any other group, it is they that Trump himself has so directly assaulted.

I am amazed at how many people of Hispanic origin have NOT risen to protect the dreamers and others, for example. I think the African American community and the Black Caucus inside government seem stunned into silence. There is a paralysis setting it that is typical of bullying and its effect on recipients. I cannot understand the Jewish establishment that I know so well from this inside; they too seem also stunned, betrayed also by Israeli Jewry’s support for proto-fascist antisemites here and in Europe, but unable to say anything against Israelis publicly, which in itself is deeply debilitating.

But somehow the women have become deeply angry and defiant in a way that I thought everyone would be. This is part of a global pattern of women’s resilience in the depths of war and oppression. We must rethink many assumptions about how to defeat totalitarianism, now and in the future, for totalitarianism is a deadly disease that periodically afflicts human society. And we do not know how to defeat it until it kills enough of the host to commit suicide, as it did in Germany and Japan. We need a less violent end to bad moods, silly anti-intellectual frenzy that often ends in horror. Perhaps we need to watch closely for women as heroes. it is not all women who have the answers, and indeed many are mesmerized by Trumpism, while others are dividing and not leading. But there is something going on here that reminds me of heroic women around the world who, when war destroyed everything, rose exactly then to seize life, seize common sense, and save society from its dark mood.

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It is the most frequently commanded law in the Bible. It is the foundation of what should be recalled every seven days, and every single holiday throughout the Bible. It is the foundation of the identity of the physical and spiritual ancestor of half of planet earth’s human inhabitants who call themselves religious. The abuse of this law, it is warned, is the basis of the destruction of society. It is purposefully and explicitly anti-misogynist and pro-women and children.

 

It has many names: refugee, resident alien, illegal alien, landless, homeless. It is the law of Ger, Yatom and Almanah. It is the law that says that no matter what happens in your society, no matter how rich you become, no matter how poor you become, no matter how beleaguered, embattled, selfish, miserable, or confused, you must love the refugee, the widow, the orphan, if you want to survive on the land. As if those commandments were not repeated enough, and embedded in every single holiday and celebration, it is uttered as the most important self-identification of the ancestor of all peoples who claim this ancient religion.

 

Abraham says effectively this in one of his most important foreign policy speeches after much travel. He says, “I am a refugee, I have no legal status with you and I have no land. Can you please allow me to pay good money to buy one small parcel of land, so that I can bury my dear Sarah, my wife.” And the people are so deeply impressed by the honor and decency of this refugee that they insist that he bury freely, but he insists to the contrary, that everything should be by the law, and a proper ownership. Kind to his wife, honest with strangers, but shrewd with his destiny, he understands that refugees don’t fare well until they have legal title. A man ahead of his time.

 

In that spirit, with that memory in mind, and with a keen sense of pain over the absolute homelessness and vulnerability of the worst kind of homeless refugee, the slave, this long Biblical story culminates in no less than 36 commandments to love the refugee, to never forget your origins, going back millions of years for all of human origins, your origins as refugee.

 

It is as if the Bible plastered the law, rebukes about the law, stories about the law, the law as essential to anyone who claims ancestry, spiritual or otherwise, it is as if the Bible places it in every single corner of its sacred word, so that a selfish bigot might not run to try to establish a hypocritical religion and a divine connection without the refugee. This Canadian Casino is based on Microgaming software and offers exciting slots that give money! And so the Bible literally sticks it in the face of the reader, no matter how much the reader may not want to think about refugees, homeless people, as if the reader would like to erase inglorious history. But the Bible comes back at you and says that if you want to erase your history as a refugee because it is inglorious I will erase you as an inglorious bastard, I will make you a refugee so that you can never deny your origin and identity.

 

This is tough medicine for Christians, Muslims and Jews who all claim Abraham as ancestor and godfather, but it is very good medicine. It is this medicine that gave rise to the spirit of the Enlightenment that, though darkened and tarnished by the centuries, is still with us, and still calls to us for the creation of a society that is truly enlightened, that reaches for the stars by loving and strengthening the least of us. The societies that truly win in the contests with barbarity on this planet are the ones who welcome the refugee, the bearers of human diversity and hope. America was strengthened this way, but now it will be western Europe. For in the throng of refugees lies our future, our future geniuses, our future leaders, our saviors from ourselves. They will not bury our identities, they will complete our identities, they will restore our identities, they will pull us out of barren materialism and strange narcissism, and they will remind us of our best selves and our highest destiny.

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(As it appeared in the Huffington Post. )

There is a war for your brain in today’s politics, and the weapon of that war is language manipulation. George Lakoff has spent his career demonstrating the power of language and neural nets to trap us into thinking thoughts we do not necessarily want to think, to believe things that we would question if we were not being manipulated. In a wonderful interview , Lakoff describes a series of words that have changed us. For example, people were convinced at a certain point that taxes were not an investment in our future, in our society, but a burden to be relieved. Everyone repeated the phrase “tax relief” that we all forgot that taxes are essential to everything in our lives, our roads, our police, our hospitals, our schools, our safety in every respect. This is the exact neural path through which taxes became an enemy rather than a democratic consensus for investment in all of us.

 

Now we have a new and more dangerous set of words that must be confronted.

 

Please folks, do not let your mind be manipulated by fascism in its many guises. Do not change your vocabulary and your brain, do not become manipulated through words.

 

  1. There is no such thing as alternative facts, so do not use the phrase. There are lies and there are truths, and then there are complex realities where the true and the false are difficult to discern. But that is our job as responsible adults, to discern fact from fiction, to seek truth, no matter how complex it may be.
  2. There is no such thing as an “alt-right”, like some button on your car. There are fascists, there are Nazis. There is an explosion of white supremacy thinking and behavior in the United States, as numerous scholars have articulated. Then call it what it is. There are democratic and anti-democratic ideas and practices. Call them what they actually are. There are conservative opinions on a range of issues, there are more liberal opinions on a range of issues. Call it what it is, in your best assessment.
  3. There is no such thing as “fake news”. There is news that is true and there are falsehoods presented as truth pretending to be news, and responsible adults are supposed to work at discerning the difference. This phrase confuses the mind and is meant to. So do not use it.
  4. As my colleague Will Urquhart has pointed, out there is no such thing as “pre-existing conditions”. There is the normal human body in sickness and health, and conditions come and go based on how much society is prepared to accept that health is a human right. So do not use the expression pre-existing condition, because it is a manipulation of the mind. Proof? There are conditions on the list so benign, such as reflux, that it becomes clear that the entire list is there to raise everyone’s premiums astronomically. Call such conditional healthcare what it is, murder of the sick or abandonment of the sick.

Please feel free to suggest additions to this list.

We have a lot of work to do to protect American civilization, to protect the innocent, to bring average people back to their senses. For that we need to refine our language, to frame our criticism and our vision in the positive, but also to expose loaded words designed to manipulate.

 

Words matter especially in the signs we make to essentialize our message, as so many brilliant people have done in the countless demonstrations across the country. Let’s gather and proliferate the bits of wisdom that so many are creating, let’s repeat them again and again, because the brain needs simplicity and repetition to shift its worldview. Above all, let us be kind to each other as we struggle, each with our own words and messages, to move our precious civilization in the direction of greater and greater humanity.

 

 

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A version of this originally published in the Huffington Post

The largest coordinated national and international protest in American history snuck up on me, like a long-lost friend’s unannounced visit. I spent half my life pining over being slightly too young and too conservative to have been together with Woodstock’s 400,000. But there I was 48 years later, half a century later, on January 21, 2017, stumbling unwittingly out of the Metro red line at Judiciary Square, Washington, DC, and spilling onto a sea of humanity packed like sardines, and into an experience that dwarfed 1969 Woodstock. This was not a sea of kids scared to death of the draft, everyone in their twenties, raucous music and lots of sex. There was no tear gas and rage and throwing stuff everywhere like Chicago 1968.

There was plenty of anger, but there was this strange peace among people of every age group and race, religious and secular, the very young and the very old, families with kids, the super straight and the extraordinarily tattooed, every social group imaginable. The crowd was exuberant but sad, ecstatic but serious, eager to march but almost absurdly patient and kind. They were mostly women but an astonishing number of supportive men. I still cannot understand the calm without guides, without any instructions whatever, without any sound system or video or speeches, crushed by a turnout so large that no one could move.

Here is the thing, most of us were content to just be with each other without direction, massively crushed, enjoying each other’s signs and all our outrageous peculiarities and differences. It is as if some outside dark force had ordered us to say hello to each other for the first time in our lives, because we knew in our hearts that we may be about to lose each other. The scientists know well that loss, fear of loss, is a far more powerful motivator than opportunity for gain. We average Americans sat there like sardines, very patient, because we knew that what we were doing right then and there, that freedom of assembly, may be lost. But with such high stakes why was it all so calm, why weren’t we angry at organizers or lack of directions?

I saw something new, some new state of mind cutting across generations, with no tension with one age group or gender against the other, no race or religion against one another, no secular against religious, no mockery of any group or phenomenon, except mockery of mockery itself. I also saw something not led from the top, but led from our strange attraction to each other in a time of sorrow, of loss. I sensed it from the first second we entered the metro and discovered long lines of strangers from around the country lining up for metro cards, lines I had never in my life seen in Washington.

I sensed already on the DC Metro, rushing as a mob to the last usually empty cars that everyone filled to every single space, and then we looked at each other after the doors closed in amazement. Who are all these people? Why do they all wear the same pussy hats? Who coordinated all of our feelings? What the hell has just happened to my individual loneliness and hellish confrontation with the possible end of democracy? Where was my lonely sorrow, and why did all these people have the same look in their eyes of longing, sadness, hope? It was as if we knew no one but knew everyone and the pain they carried inside. With complete strangers, at each turn of our journey to the march, we sensed urgency, but not urgency to get to the march, urgency that we might lose the most precious gift of freedom that our ancestors had given us. We were racing not to the marching grounds but to an inheritance that we felt we could lose. As the march on Washington was lived on the ground, there was a new reality born, a reality of collective care and commitment to save what we can always be lost. No intellectual rebuke, from Socrates to Eisenhower could convince us of what we might lose as much as the reality of these days.
When massive crowds come to know each other, history often adjusts. In April 1967, about 300,000 people demonstrated against the war in New York. In 1965, most Americans had supported U.S. policies in Vietnam, but by 1967 only 35 percent did so. In October 1969, more than 2 million people participated in Vietnam Moratorium protests across the country. The following month, over 500,000 demonstrated in Washington and 150,000 in San Francisco. The American population at the time was about 190 million, and today it is about 320 million. With our millions this past week, we are not that far off from the kind of numbers that changed history and changed attitudes in the United States within a few small years. But there was persistence and momentum that made the difference in the 1960s, and our future and our willpower is still uncertain.

What impressed me most about all the demonstrations around the world that these women led is calm. One of the reasons for the unbelievable calm, composure, kindness and self-discipline of the masses, is that we are wiser today about ourselves, about violence, about anger, and about change. Oh, we are angry, and every one of the participants felt aggrieved or wounded in one way or the other by the unjust, illiberal and tragic way in which a minority in the country, together with a minority of billionaires and covert leaders, seized the country, enjoyed an absurd mascot, and began to dismantle every aspect of democratic safety, with bullying of each of us in different parts of our identity. But we are impressed by the relationship between inner peace and outer peace, the consequences of personal behavior, personal demeanor for the effectiveness of social change. Calm hovered over the atmosphere like a soft blanket in situations that were often tense with deeply uncomfortable crowding, no directions, no way out (I tried to go home for an hour and gave up), no guidance, no police protection, no program that could be heard or seen, at least in DC.

Perhaps we are reaching a new stage of history. We show up with our minds and our bodies to challenge injustice, to fight for a better way, but we are doing so with calm restraint and love, from teenagers to twenty-somethings, every single decade of human beings, gay and straight, every religion and no religion, angry for a thousand legitimate reasons, and still harming no one, aiding many and guiding many at every turn, with the calm aid of others an act of ultimate defiance against bullying itself.

Historians and conflict analysts will study this day, for both its purposeful qualities, its accidental qualities, and the surprising global outcome. They will study the action/reaction spiral of threats to democracy and the response of the masses. They will note that these marches occurred in the shadow of other mobs that have been given permission to threaten and bully isolated individuals and institutions across the country. They will note the less understood and bewildering contemporary effects of false social media, virtual bullying, virtual mob violence, and the instrumentalization of this by foreign states and agencies. But they will also note with incredulity the spontaneous courage of millions of strangers, led by women, to forge quiet, determined commitments that can be summed up on one placard: This is what democracy looks like.

They will note the overwhelming evidence from every conflict region in the world that where there is increasing equality of men and women together in struggle, something dramatically wise and calm occurs in human thinking and collective decision making, something that explains the sustainability of women’s peace relationships with other women and men across enemy lines in the worst war zones. They will note that something dramatic is happening to human evolution of consciousness and evolution of change that occurs with less violence in direct correspondence to when women and men unite as equals.

Let’s make this the norm of the American future, let’s do this often in strategic ways, let’s do it locally at every level of decision-making. We need to change, we need to unite, but we need to do so with calm and discernment. We have learned that the way we gather, the way we look at each other, the way we talk to each other, has far-reaching consequences for the kind and quality of power that we generate, for the kind and quality of society that we build. We can be angry; we can be ferociously determined to change what is unjust. But with calm, with kindness, we become an unstoppable force of social persuasion and enlightened democratic life.

Follow Marc Gopin on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mgopin

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Who says commerce can never lead the way? This company had the courage to revive one of the most important moments in history. That day between British and German troops should be immortalized in the annals of peace as one of the central turning points. It should be studied by every person in other parts of the world who suffers under “eternal” enemies at each other’s throats. It is the art of the possible. The art of lone men, lone leaders who pave the way with a different idea in their head of the men they are pointing their guns at. This is leaders, a new idea, and the resulting festival of goodness.

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