Saturday, May 31, 2014

Slavery must be recognised in all its guises (The Guardian)

Five years ago, I became the UN's first special rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery. Since then, I have been asked time and again by government officials, businesspeople and NGOs not to use the word "slavery" at all. I have been asked to change the name of my mandate and not speak out about what I have seen. They have asked me to use other words instead – ones that don't carry the same meanings or implications.

Yet what other word describes people who have been beaten mercilessly, shut indoors, made to work without pay, sexually abused, poorly fed and threatened with more abuse against themselves and their family if they attempt to leave? This is not just violence or exploitation. What describes the situation in which a mother has no right over her child, or a father is forced to put down his own life – and those of his family – as collateral, working for nothing to try to repay a debt that will never go away? These are the forms of slavery that exist today.
Millions of people live in some form of enslavement. The exact numbers are impossible to calculate. Modern slavery is one of the most powerful criminal industries (pdf), and it is because of our collective silence and refusal to acknowledge its existence that it thrives and transforms itself into new forms year after year. By not speaking out, we are helping to perpetuate an industry that strips millions of their humanity and rights.
Slavery did not end when it was legally abolished. Instead, it is flourishing, extending its tentacles into every corner of the planet.
This is something that touches all our lives. It is almost impossible not to be complicit. How many of us ask ourselves who makes biofuels, jewellery, vegetables, fruit, clothes, shoes and even carpets? We all enjoy the cheap fruits of enslavement, while telling ourselves that exploitation happens "over there" and is nothing to do with our own country or community.
Sex trafficking is finally starting to receive visibility as the horrendous human rights abuse it is. Yet more widespread forms of slavery and trafficking continue to go unreported and ignored.

I have spent the past five years talking to people in forced labour, domestic servitude, bonded labour, servile marriages and child slavery. These forms of slavery remain invisible, since people are silenced by discrimination, fear of retaliation and lack of awareness. These modern forms of human slavery and criminal acts are often excused as tradition, culture, religion or poverty, or dismissed as nothing more than bad labour practices.
The slavery industry relies on the invisibility of those it preys on. Those trapped are not visibly shackled, but they do live their lives under the control of others.
For the world to tackle slavery effectively, we need to recognise this industry in people in all of its manifestations. Human rights are equal and inalienable. I have met organisations working on ending forced marriage, or on the abuse and exploitation of domestic workers and children, who feel they are unable to call these abuses slavery as the word is too loaded and they would put their work at risk. This must stop. Slavery is slavery, no matter what form it takes.
We must face up to all forms of slavery or inadvertently ignore the plight of millions. One type of slavery, such as sex trafficking, cannot be considered more worth fighting for than another. We have a collective responsibility to end this pernicious and persistent problem.
All countries must ensure that they have national legislation prohibiting and criminalising all forms of slavery, and this legislation must be properly enforced. The failure of justice systems to put anti-slavery laws into action is one of the props the slavery industry relies upon. This needs to change.
To combat slavery, we need to speak for people who have been silenced by this most brutal of trades. We must stop being complacent, and find the courage to hold individuals, companies and governments accountable. Complacency is no longer an option.
• Gulnara Shahinian is the UN special rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery

God and the Evolutionary Mind (Joan Chittister)


Joan Chittister, O.S.B. is an internationally known author and speaker on subjects such as contemporary spirituality, peace, justice and human rights.

In her presentation, entitled God and the Evolutionary Mind: The God Who Beckons, Chittister discusses her current thinking on contemporary spirituality and how it relates to both international and national peace and justice issues.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Return to the wild intelligence of your body…

Will you hold another who has been touched by the darkness within? Will you love them enough to allow them to fall apart in your arms? To unravel, to become unglued, and to feel unbearably lost as the wisdom of their process unfolds? Will you be the space in which they can finally meet the feelings and emotions that have been kept at bay for a lifetime?

To love another in this way you must touch everything that is unresolved within you – all of your own unmet sadness, abandoned shame, discarded grief, and deserted aloneness. You are willing to no longer stay safe on the sidelines. You are willing to get messy. Even gooey and drippy.

Will you set aside your need for the other to change, to be different, to be “cured,” to be transformed, and to be healed? Will you resist the temptation to talk them out of their embodied experience, to tell them everything will be okay, and to dishonor the creativity hidden inside the unwanted? Will you allow your heart to break with them, and endure the urge inside you to put it all back together again? Will you fall into the unknown with them, holding them close, and provide a home for their brokenness?

To care about others, yourself, and the world in this way you must stay radically embodied. You are no longer interested in transcending suffering, confusion, and neurosis, for you see these as thundering expressions of the path itself. Please don’t turn away. As your attention moves out into the conceptual world, return to the wild intelligence of your body, for it is there that love is working behind the scenes, giving birth to its sweet activity in this dimension.

It is in this factory of love, which is operating as the temple of your own body, where the sacred world is revealing its essential secrets of healing: there is no “other,” there has never been an “other,” and there could never be an “other.” There is only the reflection of your own being.

Love is taking the pieces of your heart and is using them to re-assemble the world in front of you, each as an invitation sent to reveal to you the preciousness of what is really happening here.

Matt Licata
Sounds True Editor-at-large

Each System is a Whole

"Each system, from atom to galaxy, is a whole. That means that it is not reducible to its components. Its distinctive nature and capacities derive from the interactive relationships between its parts.

This interplay is synergistic, generating "emergent properties" and new possibilities, which are not predictable from the character of the separate parts--just as the wetness of water could not be predicted from oxygen and hydrogen before they combined.

Every system is a "holon" - that is, it is both a whole in its own right, comprised of subsystems, and simultaneously an integral part of a larger system. Thus holons form "nested hierarchies," systems within systems, circuits within circuits, fields within fields.

Each new holonic level - say from atom to molecule, cell to organ, person to family - generates emergent properties that are not reducible to the capacities of the separate components."

Joanna Macy 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

I Am Human (Maya Angelou)


"I am a human being. Nothing human can be alien to me."

Maya Angelou

A Longer Memory

On the ‘Dia-Tekhnē • Dialogue through Art’ methodology (by Alex Carrascosa)

Mandala-Circus at the University of Tolima, Ibagué (Colombia)

The ‘Dia-Tekhnē • Dialogue through Art’ methodology is a technique for group facilitation which provides communication between different people by complementing logos —the word— with tekhnē —art—.

Since its earliest experiment in Spring 2001, the ‘Dia-Tekhnē’ methodology has been developed at and from the Basque town of Gernika, double symbol of the denunciation of war through Picasso's Guernica and of the announcement of peace through the holy oak of civil liberties —“Europe's oldest democracy”, George Steer's words. Supported by the Gernika Gogoratuz Peace Research Center, the Gernika Peace Museum and local NGOs, this methodology has served many communities, mostly in Indo-Afro-Latin-America.

‘Dia-Tekhnē’ was initially created in the field of plastic and visual arts as a conceptual and participative tool related to the contemporary trend of “lifelike art” (so called by the creator of the happening, Allan Kaprow), and has grown very close to militant research, a meeting point between activism and academia.

The ‘Dia-Tekhnē . Dialogue through Art’ methodology is applied in a double format of laboratory and workshop (“LabShop”): a laboratory for analysis and scientific research and an artistic workshop. The ‘Dia-Tekhnē’ LabShop provides the structure and media, but not the theme and content, and can therefore be adapted to any human group or community and enable them to manage their conflicts creatively (with creativity and in action) and contribute positively to their empowerment. 

Mandala-Circus at the University of Tolima, Ibagué (Colombia)

The ‘Dia-Tekhnē . Dialogue through Art’ methodology runs along two consecutive phases: Relational Painting and the CreActive Assembly.

The purpose of Relational Painting is the cohesion of the group or community prior to addressing the issue that calls for intervention, while the purpose of the CreActive Assembly is the visual and, therefore, ‘literal’ analysis of the different points of view regarding this theme and the design of transformation scenarios where all parties win. Relational Painting promotes an affective change and the CreActive Assembly, an effective change.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Quality of Presence

Admitting the Changes

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve the beauty.”  

Maya Angelou

Monday, May 26, 2014

Butterfly eggs and caterpillar survival (BBC)


Watch this amazing animal video showing the clever survival techniques of the caterpillar as it disguises itself as ant larvae, and the deceptive techniques of the wasp as it invades the same ants nest to lay its eggs inside the butterfly larvae. Brilliant images in this video from BBC animal and wildlife show 'Life in the Undergrowth' with Sir David Attenborough.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Only Thoughts

The Neurobiology of Slavery


Thanks to MRI and FMRI brain scans, we now know much more about how damage to or deficiencies in certain parts of the brain may underlie "evil" behavior.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Wendell Berry Reads A Poem on Hope


Wendell Berry, one of America's most influential writers,
reads one of his most revered poems "A Poem on Hope"