In my Ethical Culture home, Labor Day was perhaps the most sacred holiday, perhaps the only sacred holiday that we observed. Some of my earliest memories are of my stroller being decked out with crepe paper streamers to go to the annual Labor Day parade in Manhattan.
I was so proud to be able to participate in the parade as a union member myself back in the early 80's. I was a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and the first parade I was in was during the year that Ronald Reagan was busy breaking the PATCO union. There was a lot of pro-union energy at that parade.
Supporting labor unions, not crossing picket lines were just something I grew up breathing. My parents were both active in their unions - my mother 1199, which continues to this day, although expanded from its scope as a union for health care workers, and my father, District 65 and even at 6 years old I could tell you that RWDSU stood for Retail, Wholesale, Department Store workers Union.
So I come to write about Labor Day for ESWoW this weekend and it occurs to me it is worth asking the question, why does labor day matter to Ethical Culturists, and of course, the underlying question, why do labor unions matter to Ethical Culturists. Of course, being a non-dogmatic religion, I can only tell you why labor day and labor unions matter to me. It has been a useful exercise to consider why unions were so important to my parents, and why I support unionization today. Read more »
How do you cook your okra?
Who would have thought that this simple question, asked in a supermarket would create international connections?
Although this time of year I buy most of my produce at local farmers' markets, I did find myself in the produce section of my favorite supermarket last week. My favorite supermarket is Market Basket in Somerville, MA. I like it because it is not a super big chain, and I'm trying to shop local more and more.
But what I like most about it is that I often feel like I am shopping at the United Nations. There are people of zillions of ethnic groups, speaking lots of different languages, many that I can't even identify. The ones I can recognize include Haitian Creole, Portuguese, Spanish and sometimes English. I know that people from Somalia, Cape Verde, Nigeria, and India shop there.
A Rose is a rose......?
The Fourth of July is upon us – Independence Day in the United States of America.
My usual theme for this holiday is about interdependence and how Ethical Culture holds that fostering the relationships between and among people is a path to living most ethically. I still think that is true, it is a concept I hold most dear and with high regard.
Yet this year, in planning to write about how the United States was founded with the acceptance of the idea that immigrants to this land, Pilgrims and others, could dominate a land that was not theirs and the acceptance of the idea that it was good practice for one human being to own another as a slave, I thought my theme was going to be different, more political, if you will. Read more »
What a foolish notion, that war is called devotion
When the greatest warriors
Are the ones who stand for peace.
- Holly Near
On Memorial Day this year I joined a group of people at the Boston Harbor who were honoring those who have died in wars, those who have had their lives touched by wars, those who work for peace.
I wasn't there for the whole program which included a memorial tribute to Howard Zinn. He is being well-remembered in the Boston area. I went to a lovely tribute program to this ardent activist several weeks ago and was pleased to hear more about the many realms in which he had practiced his activism.
I arrived at the Memorial Day for Peace event while they were in the midst of reading the names of people from Massachusetts who had died while serving in the military in either Iraq or Afghanistan. The readers were primarily people who were members of Veterans for Peace groups or Gold Star Families for Peace. (I find the term gold star abhorrent in this context – it is the military saying your loved one died while serving in the military, now we'll give you a gold star.)
After each name was read, a flower was thrown into Boston Harbor. Some of the people throwing flowers were relatives of the person whose name had been announced, but mostly they were just part of the gathered crowd. I thought about throwing a flower in, but to me, at that moment, throwing a flower into the harbor didn't seem like it would address the great sadness I was feeling, hearing the names of all those people who, in my opinion, had died needlessly. Read more »
This month we've been focusing on environmental issues and how in the quest to live more ethically we need to change our behaviors so that they are more sustainable for the continuation of our planet. Most ESWoW participants live in the US, and we focused on some actions we could take in our daily lives.
Yet Climate Change affects everyone in the world. Last week people came together in Cochabama, Bolivia for a World People's Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth. Now you might be thinking "Wasn't there a UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen this past December? Weren't they trying to get all the people of the world to come to agreement on what actions must be taken to prevent the most devastating affects of Climate Change?" And you'd be right. So why the need for another conference now? My understanding is that while there was some progress in Copenhagen, there was not enough.
The concerns addressed at the conference in Bolivia include the impact that global warming will have on food production, the impact of more and more extreme weather in the form of floods, droughts and storms, and even the disappearance of island nations. I found it sobering, scary even, to read about the affects of Climate Change on other parts of the world.
In reading materials about and from the conference, I am struck by the notion of interconnectedness that pervades the approach of this gathering and the continuing work participants will be doing. An interconnectedness of all the people of the world, all the species of the world and of all living beings to the planet on which we live. The very title of the conference gives prominence to the notion that this is not just about people, but also Mother Earth. Read more »
It's hard to believe that we have been observing Earth Day for 40 years. I remember the first one and the little green button I had that simply said "environment" on it. In some ways, we, as a country, have made some progress in protecting our environment, but in other ways, we haven't made much progress at all.
Having an understanding of and a sense of responsibility toward the natural world we are part of fits in well with my Ethical Culture perspective of the world. Just as I have relationships with human, some close and very intentional, and some neither close nor intentional, I have a relationship with the world around me, whether or not I am intentional about it. For most of my life, at least since the first Earth Day in 1970, I have tried to be as intentional as I could in using as few resources as I can, being somewhat obsessed about recycling, and lately, not owning a car, biking and using public transportation. I have a good appreciation of how one's life circumstances influence the choices we make - I didn't feel I had the option to not have a car when my two children were young, but I think it is important to always reflect and make the best choices we can in the moment. Read more »
The Community Call originally scheduled for April 4, 2010 will now be held on April 11, 2010. Bart Worden will be joining us on April 11 at noon Pacific, 1pm Mountain, 2pm Central and 3pm Eastern Time. He will be talking about issues of sustainability for our theme of caring for the earth in April. The number to join the call is 866-740-1260 and the access code is 5766842#. On Sunday, April 18, Kate Lovelady, Leader of the Ethical Society of St. Louis will be joining us to speak about living ecologically. The contact information for the call is the same for the call on April 11th. We hope you can join us and please feel free to invite others who might be interested to join the call.
As Hugh and I have both mentioned, this year the National Leaders Council of the American Ethical has chosen to focus on the social justice issues surrounding Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Queer/Questioning people.
Working on the issues is important. Why are they important? They are important to me because with an Ethical Culture life perspective I believe that all people have worth and dignity based only on the fact that they are human beings. Any laws, or societal practices which limit the ability of any individual or group of individuals to live with the rights and respect accorded to other individuals violate my religious beliefs.
The laws making the most news these days that affect people who are queer are around same sex marriage and the policy of American military "don't ask, don't tell."
There's good news on the marriage front in Washington, D.C. Hugh Taft-Morales sent the following to me on March 3.
Washington, D.C., can begin to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples Wednesday, now that the Supreme Court has refused to block the city's gay marriage law.
Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the court Tuesday, supported the decisions of lower courts that upheld a City Council vote legalizing gay marriage, the Associated Press reported. Opponents had argued that D.C. residents should have been allowed to vote on the issue.
"It has been the practice of the court to defer to the decisions of the courts of the District of Columbia on matters of exclusively local concern," Roberts wrote. Read more »