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#1848 - Sunday, July 4, 2004 - Editor: Gloria  

Coming or going,
Day or night,
You must just strive to
Face the incomprehensible.

- Daito (1282-1334)


Death and life are looked on
As but transformations;
The myriad creation is all of a kind,
There is a kinship through all.

- Huai Nan Tzu (2nd century B.C.)


Nature may be compared to a vast ocean. Thousands and millions of changes are taking place in it. Crocodiles and fish are essentially of the same substance as the water in which they live. People are crowded together with the myriad other things in the Great Changingness, and their nature is one with that of all other natural things. Knowing that I am of the same nature as all other natural things, I know that there is really no separate self, no separate personality, no absolute death and no absolute life.

- T’ien T’ung-Hsu (8th century A.D.)


let me cleanse
in your brief,
sweet waters
these dark hands of life.

- Basho (1644-1694)

Easter Morning

On Easter morning all over America
the peasants are frying potatoes in bacon grease.

We're not supposed to have "peasants"
but there are tens of millions of them
frying potatoes on Easter morning,
cheap and delicious with catsup.

If Jesus were here this morning he might
be eating fried potatoes with my friend
who has a '51 Dodge and a '72 Pontiac.

When his kids ask why they don't have
a new car he says, "these cars were new once
and now they are experienced."

He can fix anything and when rich folks
call to get a toilet repaired he pauses
extra hours so that they can further
learn what we're made of.

I told him that in Mexico the poor say
that when there's lightning the rich
think that God is taking their picture.
He laughed.

Like peasants everywhere in the history
of the world ours can't figure out why
they're getting poorer. Their sons join
the army to get work being shot at.

Your ideals are invisible clouds
so try not to suffocate the poor,
the peasants, with your sympathies.
They know that you're staring at them.

Jim Harrison

The Salon Interview: Jim Harrison

Animals play a major part in your work, and you often note the similarities between the desires of humans and animals. In a very fundamental sense they're not all that different for you, are they? They aren't. Of course, I grew up rural, around animals. I had my eye put out when I was a kid and ran to the woods, and I'm not totally sure I've emerged. [Laughs] This strange Hasidic scholar I know named Neal Claremont, a brilliant young man, said to me one day: "Don't you really think that reality is the accretion of the perceptions of all creatures?" I said, Jesus Christ, that's a monster statement. But of course it's true, and what a marvelous thing to say. I don't think I'm any more important than a dog or a cat. It's become alien to my nature -- that sort of self-importance that is so egregious in this fucking pop stand. I could do my imitation of an important novelist entering Elaine's, but why? There's no bigger trip than self-importance -- to blind you, to decrease the energy of your art. So the animals come in there -- whether horses, dogs, cats, bears, birds -- to help keep you ordinary. You know, in terms of the history of language, the first Chinese ideograms were really imitations of animal tracks. I like that. I like to hike after a good rain because every track is fresh and I always have Olaus Murie's "Field Guide to Animal Tracks" with me. The tracks speak their own language. They reveal everything that happened -- what crossed here, what went that way. But we don't know about that any more. We've become more dislocated and urban. Most people who eat beef and pork and chicken now have never known a cow or pig. They've never held a pig in their arms or chased a rooster. That's one thing I enjoyed about [Charles Frazier's novel] "Cold Mountain." And, too, its revivification of language. Greil Marcus has a tirade against Frazier's use of language in the current Esquire. Oh, fuck him. Maybe I'll buy it and respond to it. There was all this controversy when Frazier won the National Book Award instead of Don DeLillo. But who gives a fuck? That's children's play. It's not even children's play -- it's neurotic play. Prizes and accolades have never mattered to you, have they? I made an agreement with myself long ago that I would never complain about anything as long as my books were in print, and they've stayed in print. You can't cut your suit of clothes to fit anybody else. But I'll let someone else defend Charles [Frazier]. I can't get any more irritated than I have been with all this Clinton mess. Before I went to Paris I did an old traditional ritual. I went up to my cabin and vomited up the world for five days. No contact with newspapers, radio, nothing but running my dog. I think even Jesus said you have to step aside in the wilderness and rest awhile, an interesting view. You have to avoid suffocating in lint. We're not choo-choo trains on a track. Nothing tells us we can't swim across a lake and climb a tree. We're human beings. Some of us are still Pleistocene bipeds, no matter that we like James Joyce and Heidegger. It's that idea that Nelse [a character in "The Road Home"] talks about, and Shakespeare said it first: We're nature, too. It's that schizophrenia that you often see in the environmental movement -- on the dweebish side of the environmental movement -- that wants to save something. Well, save yourself too, asshole, on the way, or you won't have anything to save anyway. The idea seems to be to preserve nature the way you preserve a museum piece. True. Trying to create an outdoor museum isn't the point. There's a great book on that called "The Abstract Wild," by Jack Turner, published by the University of Arizona Press, that has been savagely attacked by the so-called deep ecologists. As the kids would say, "Get a life."

To reach Chrysanthemum River
I always follow Ch’ing Gorge Stream
Through the mountains, through
Ten thousand twists and turns
A fine trip and not a hundred li.
The noise among boulders is tremendous,
The view into pines, serene;
Swirling water, chestnut
Distilled reflections of reeds.
My original mind is unstriving,
A pure, tranquil stream, like that.
I could stay on some big rock slab,
Fishing forever.

- Wang Wei (701-761)

Pete ~ Advaita to Zen

Riding the bronco of becoming, we feel tossed around, go up,
go down, always teetering, hanging for dear life, and we yearn
for the placid stability of just being. And we think the stillness
of just being will be ours, if we could just think the right thoughts,
exclude, or at least be immune to hurt, acquire right understanding.

None of these will save us from becoming. When we stop trying to
manage becoming, it's seen as no other than Being. This endless
turmoil, is the infinite stability, the peace that transcend
understanding. Let go of the bridle, relax on the saddle,
enjoy the wild ride.

Researchers Fleischman-Hillard surveyed 4,000 people in
France, Germany, Italy and the UK, and found that 86%
would be more likely to buy from a company that supports
and engages in activities to improve society”.

(e-Customer Service World)

Change companies and change the world.

No matter which issues you care about, chances are that companies have a lot to do with them. Changing the practices of companies is a key to building a brighter future. And as powerful as companies are, there's something even more powerful: you.

Companies do what customers want. In fact, the main reason companies have not been more environmentally and socially responsible is because customers haven't demanded it.

IdealsWork is here to change that — by giving you information about what companies do, and making it easy for you to do something about it.

Anita Roddick In her own inimitable style, Anita Roddick
(founder of The Body Shop) shares her thoughts with us on
business and activism and takes on the WTO. 

Read the interview

 excerpts from:

Share International: You seem to be a firm believer in people taking a stand on what is important to them, recognizing that their opinions are valid and that they have a right to be heard. Do you feel that big business and national governments are listening more to public opinion?

Anita Roddick: I think we have shaped this whole new movement called 'vigilante consumerism'. Vigilante consumers are working with human rights groups, environmental groups -- the grassroots movement -- and are definitely challenging corporations. They are no longer challenging governments, because governments are inert and in the pockets of big business. The activists are taking action against the multinationals like Shell or British Petroleum, for example, and stopping Nike's use of sweat labour workshops in Indonesia. This movement is gaining momentum. But on the whole businesses do not listen to the consumer. Consumers have not been told effectively enough that they have huge power and that purchasing and shopping involve a moral choice.

SI: You obviously have a strong awareness of people power.

AR: Yes. I think we express that awareness by our shops being turned into "action stations". We have been creating a whole range of publications for developing the activist. All knowledge should be shaped into action and we have been proselytizing that for many years.

From your vantage point, what are some of the prevailing myths about globalization?

It's economic globalization, corporate globalization, and I think it's very, very important to put that word in. Because anybody can shape the word globalization — global music ... global food. Let's get this right: it's corporate globalization. One of the great myths of corporate globalization is that it will end poverty. It will not. It creates enormous wealth, but only for the elite who benefit from consolidation, mergers, the surge of global-scale technology and financial activity. The rising tide is supposed to lift all boats and end poverty. But for the past 50 years — and this is seen in statements by the World Bank and others — the world has seen more poverty than ever and the situation is worse.

~  ~  ~

The World Trade Organization is obviously having huge impacts on the countries and places that you've described. For people in the developed world — England, France, and particularly the United States — in what ways is the World Trade Organization negatively impacting us?

Well, I believe it's taking away our democratic rights and shaving away our democracy because it acts in secret. Nobody knows who sits on the panel because they're behind closed doors. Nobody hears outside witnesses, they're not made public. It's a whole shaving away of our democratic rights and the kind of government that democratic societies are familiar with. These judges are not chosen because of their expertise in any subject, but by the very fact that they adhere to world trade and this notion or tenet of free trade.

They allow nations to enact laws that are weaker than the global standards and not stronger. There's no bill of rights. The World Trade Organization protects intellectual property but it doesn't protect labor rules and doesn't protect human rights. It has no democratic process for change. It can be amended only from within. I think it's extremely dangerous. For me, that's not what any of us were brought up to believe is our democratic right. And it makes corporations extremely wealthy and therefore powerful so that they can then shape the democratic process of government elections. The amount of money Exxon-Mobil put into the latest Bush campaign is now legend.

This is a pretty bleak picture.

It isn't all bleak. I think on the bright side of all of this, something really interesting is happening that the media isn't talking about. There's a huge rise of the vigilante consumer, and they're coming from everywhere. They are acting more like ecological watchdogs than hungry consumers. They're no longer pointing their fingers and challenging governments, because their governments are pretty useless on this, but in my belief they're rightfully pointing their fingers at so-called business practices. And they're joined by a huge surge in the NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) movement. There are 30,000 NGO agents just working on environmental issues alone. Greenpeace has been able to stop Unilever from including genetically modified ingredients in baby food. That's a huge moral influence if you ask me.

Then you've got the whole rise of the coalition of churches. You've got the churches starting to become active again on this issue, sabotaging the general meetings of corporations and asking moral questions. I think that there's a whole revival of student protests. Five years ago the only action in the universities was kids snoring in the libraries. Now you have the rise of the student sweatshop movement and the anti-corporate globalization movement. Shaming practices are really undermining the corporate reputation of companies like Starbucks, Gap, or Nike, or whoever they are. That's putting the fear of God in companies, who are saying: "If our customers don't like our behavior outside of our own host countries, we'd better get together and do something."

Businesses aren't good at self-regulating and governments aren't imposing these standards on them, so consumers and core customers are doing it. I think that's incredibly powerful because there's a huge grassroots movement. And the voice of the south is getting extremely strong. Countries that are part of the World Trade Organization and can just about afford to have one person go there are challenging the behavior of the World Trade Organization, saying, "You've got to be more open. You've got to try ... you can't be bully-boying us with this triumvirate of America, England, and France." So I think there's a lot of hope there.

Those things that you just mentioned are collective activities. For individuals, there are a lot of recommendations and lots of really helpful suggestions in your book. If you had to pick two or three of them, what would they be?

Buy local. Use local. Keep the money in the local economy: That's number one. Number two, support the alternative media in any way you can, so you can get a different viewpoint. My first cry to any young person is to go to the independent media. Buy the Nation, or get Mother Jones, go and get FAIR — this is a media magazine. Do alternative things, because the mainstream media are providing mostly a diet of celebrity and entertainment — which isn't bad, but it just stops the bigger issues from coming through.

And number three, have a voice. Stand up for something. Don't be a sitter, be an activist. Join, have a voice. Make your voice heard. The job of a citizen, as I say in the book, is just keep your mouth open. And it can be extremely rewarding to care for things and act on things that go beyond your own human comfort zone.

Where does that leave you in terms of the future? You've written a couple of books.

Two things I'm working on. I'm setting up a book company. We're doing two books at the moment that will come out soon. One is a revolution in kindness. The second is a spiritual activist handbook. I'm taking some of those extraordinary people who have changed things and are never heard. I mean sometimes you hear about a Daniel Berrigan, but you don't hear some of the great ones around the world. And I'm working tirelessly on the elimination of child labor and sweatshop labor. I'm doing a lot of work with the National Labor Committee in trying to release the Angola 3. One has just been released, two more to go. They've been in solitary confinement for 35 years in Angola prisons.

I'll be writing more and lecturing and showing people another viewpoint. I'll always be an activist.

   Mazie Lane Jan Vermeer & Rilke

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