Living for a year having no impact on the environment. That's quite a challenge. Yet that is what Colin Beaven and his family, wife Michelle Conlin and daughter Isabella did. I'm not sure why, but I resisted watching the video I got out from the library. I don't know if I expected someone who was holier than thou about living in an ecological manner, maybe I thought I'd feel guilty that I am not doing enough to protect the environment, to conserve energy.
It didn't help when someone told me that they were less impressed because the documentary was about a family with lots of financial resources, living on Fifth Ave. in Manhattan.
But I knew I needed to watch it, so I finally popped the DVD in and thought I'd give it at least ten minutes. I was hooked right from the start. Here was a real family and they were making real choices and sacrifices, and at the same time, were going to make a lot more people aware of how their consumption affects the planet, and especially the future of our planet.
I found myself thinking yes, I can pay more attention to not buying things with lots of plastic packaging, I can be more careful to bring bags to the supermarket, I can take more political action around energy legislation. And as someone who uses my bicycle as my main means of transportation I was pleased to see them getting around in NY on bicycles.
There were some things they did which I can't see myself doing - going without electricity for months, but it does make me think more about seeking alternative forms of power generation for my home. I've been told that this location won't work well for wind generation, and my house isn't pointed in the right direction for solar panels, but that was a while ago and I know advances are being made all the time, so who knows. Read more »
Welcome to the Premier Issue of Dialogue Online
A Publication of the American Ethical Union
As announced in previous issues, Dialogue, a Publication of the American Ethical Union, has gone electronic beginning with the Winter 2010 Edition. Click the link below to open the current issue of Dialogue at the AEU website. We hope you will appreciate the new multimedia rich layout which can only be created in a web based online environment.
Click for the Winter 2010 Edition of Dialogue.
Director of Administration
American Ethical Union
P.S.: Your feedback, pointing to flaws of this first electronic edition and suggesting improvements, are appreciated.
Note from Susan Rose - please feel free to share positive feedback too. This is a great way to know what is going on in the American Ethical Union and at other Societies around the Movement. The editor, Michele Sharon is a member of ESWoW.
Ethics begins with judgment and choice, and we know that how we choose to treat others is what is most important, as the kind of world in which we live radiates from personal decisions and interactions. The values and principles that guide our choices rest on a natural interpretation of experience, and are derived from the emotional capacities and intellectual abilities of human beings and the culture they create.
What would it be like to have a very intentional focus on living more ethically for a year? How can we pay more attention to our actions - and reactions, being more reflective in the choices we make when we interact with people, the choices we make in our daily lives, the choices we make as we try to make the world a better place? Could we do this for a year? What would we do?
Quite a few people have written books in recent years chronicling their experiences of spending a year living according to a certain set of specifications. The Year of Living Biblically and The Year of Living Like Jesus are perhaps the most well-known examples of this genre. But my library catalog also has One Year to an Organized Life, A Year of Living Your Yoga, The Artist's Way Every Day: A Year of Creative Living, and even Living Oprah: my one-year experiment to walk the walk of the queen of talk. Of great interest to me now is No Impact Man, since we are invited to a conference call with Colin Beaven, the man who for a year lived with minimal environmental impact, on Sunday, January 16, 2011. We'll have more information to share about this soon. Read more »
A Year of Living Ethically
What does it to mean to live an ethical life? Are there ways you would like to grow so that you might live more ethically? Can we support each other in living more ethically in a more intentional way?
One possibility is that every month each of us can select one way in which we would like to live more ethically. It might be about close personal relationships, or your interactions with people in the world at large. Perhaps you want to focus on living more ecologiclly, or pay attention to the ethical aspects of spending your money. We can share our focus area for each month and our plans to make our actions more ethical. We can do this on our Community Calls and on our website discussion forums.
We hope you'll start your year with a focus on living ethically, by connecting with others also wanting to live more ethically. Read more »
What is the winter holiday season like for you? Do you look forward to it, is it a wonderful opportunity to connect with friends and loved ones, drink egg nog and eat fruitcake? Or is it a time you dread, or just barely get through?
December can be a difficult month for Ethical Culturists/Humanists. We are inundated with messages of Christmas and people who think that including Chanukah symbols makes it ok. There is the whole issue of displays of religious scenes and symbols on public land.
Many of us have to deal with family get-togethers that can prove difficult. Some of us feel alone while those around us are making merry. We might be missing loved ones who have died, or friends who live far away. Hearing Christmas carols everywhere you go might really get on your nerves.
Yet we also get to celebrate the Winter Solstice, knowing we've come to the time of year in the Northern Hemisphere when we'll start having more hours of daylight and preparing for a new year.
How can we find ways to make this month our own while respecting the traditions that are important to others? How do you celebrate winter?
What are your plans for the solstice, the holiday season? Will you be watching the lunar eclispe? Will you have a chance to sing?
Hugh Taft-Morales has posted a blog/Platform about the Spirit of Giving at this time of year and there are other resources on our website.
Please join us for our call on Sunday, December 19, 2010 at noon PT, 1pm MT, 2 pm CT, 3 pm ET. The number to join the call is toll-free - 866-740-1260 and the access code is 5766842#. Please invite anyone who might be interested in this topic to join us for our conversation which will last about an hour. For safety reasons, we ask that people on our call not operate a motor vehicle while participating in the call. Read more »
The Spirit of Giving – A Platform by Hugh Taft-Morales, December 2010
December 10 is the day recognized as Human Rights Day in celebration of the adoption of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The day is to celebrate the concept of human rights, that there are recognized common human rights (although that is not accepted by all) and to focus on the abuses of human rights.
This year the United Nations focus for the day is on human rights defenders. The UN website tells us
Acting alone or in groups within their communities, every day human rights defenders work to end discrimination by campaigning for equitable and effective laws, reporting and investigating human rights violations and supporting victims. While some human rights defenders are internationally renowned, many remain anonymous and undertake their work often at great personal risk to themselves and their families.
The American Ethical Union has a presence at the United Nations through the National Ethical Service which works with Non-Governmental Organization status at the United Nations bringing an awareness of human interconnectedness and the importance of keeping ethics central in how nations interact with each other.
- From the Leader - December for Humanists Susan Rose
- Community Call - How We Promote Humanism Sunday, December 5, 2010 3pm ET Hugh Taft-Morales
- American Ethical Union - Ethical Action Report
- Our New Website
From the Leader - December for Humanists
What is the winter holiday season like for you? Do you look forward to it, is it a wonderful opportunity to connect with friends and loved ones, drink egg nog and eat fruitcake? Or is it a time you dread, or just barely get through? December can be a difficult month for Ethical Culturists/Humanists. We are inundated with messages of Christmas and people who think that including Chanukah symbols makes it ok. There is the whole issue of displays of religious scenes and symbols on public land.
Many of us have to deal with family get-togethers that can prove difficult. Yet we also get to celebrate the Winter Solstice, knowing we've come to the time of year in the Northern Hemisphere when we'll start having more hours of daylight and preparing for a new year.
How can we find ways to make this month our own? How do you celebrate winter?
The Pink Triangle Trust announced that the Queen of England released a statement today refering to a speech Queen Elizabeth gave which acknowledged that people who "have no faith" can be moral people. I personally don&'t like the terms unbelievers and non-believers, but I do like the sentiment expressed in this excerpt from her speech.
In our more diverse and secular society, the place of religion has come to be a matter of lively discussion. It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue and that the wellbeing and prosperity of the nation depend on the contribution of individuals and groups of all faiths and of none. Yet, as the recent visit of His Holiness The Pope reminded us, churches and the other great faith traditions retain the potential to inspire great enthusiasm, loyalty and a concern for the common good.
You can learn more about the Pink Triangle Trust, an organization whose website tells us it was "set up in 1992 to advance the education of the public, and particularly of lesbians and gay men, in the principles and practice of Humanism, and to advance the education of the public, and particularly of Humanists, about all aspects of homosexuality" and you can read the Queen's full text to the General Synod on the Official website of the British Monarchy.
Buy Nothing Day has been going on for almost 20 years now. In the United States it is the day after Thanksgiving - typically the heaviest shopping day of the year, and in other countries it is the next day.
There is a definite activist component for some to Buy Nothing Day - and you can find out about local actions on the Adbusters website. Adbusters is the organization that started Buy Nothing Day. You can find lots of information on their site about this activity and others, including Digital Detox Week (wince - but I'll put it on my calendar for next April.)
I doubt I have ever shopped on the day after Thanksgiving, but now I don't shop with intention and that many others are also not shopping intentionally. I see it as an opportunity to reflect on our heavily consumerist culture. A culture which does not fit well with the values I hold, the values that connect me to Ethical Culture.
I see that rampant consumerism does not take the needs of so many human beings into consideration while helping others have more money than they might ever be able to use. And so much of what we consume does not take the impact that manufacturing in particular can have on the earth.
What do you think? How do you make your purchasing decisions - has that changed over the years? What factors have changed your actions? Have you found ways to give and share that do not require an outlay of money? Will you share them with us?