The I Have A Dream speech is the crown jewel of the 20th century. Given before 250,000 souls on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, it is called the defining moment of the US Civil Rights movement. It is the speech by which all other great speeches must be measured. Its haunting rhythm towards the end of the speech has an almost musical sound and feel.
The name Martin Luther King Jr. is iconic in the United States. The 44th president, Barack Obama, spoke of King in both his Democratic National Convention nomination acceptance and victory speeches in 2008:
Countering extremist anti-immigrant and racist attitudes and recruiting in Manitoba requires new approaches.
I believe there is no authentic spirituality where there is no healing of one’s community and of the world – just as social, environmental and political activism without a spiritual dimension can easily lead to anger, bitterness and burnout.
The first two decades of the 21st century saw the return of mass movements to streets around the world.
Millions of youth have participated in climate strikes, negotiations, press conferences and events, demanding urgent climate action this year.
Negativity has become a key indicator for how newsworthy a story is considered to be, not only by the industry but also by us, the consumers. And many news professionals and news consumers will tell you that there is good reason to report bad news.
Frustrated by government failure to respond to the climate crisis adequately, citizens are taking to the courts.
Mass shootings have become a routine occurrence in America. Gun-makers have long refused to take responsibility for their role in this epidemic. That may be about to change.
The events that occurred in the United States on September 11, 2001, have made it desperately obvious that our world must be changed, or soon there may be no world to change at all. I am reminded here of the wonderful soul-searching inquiry of the Jewish tradition: If not now, when? If not me, who?
In November 2018, 20,000 Google employees across the world walked out of work. They were protesting the ways in which their employer had failed to address sexual harassment in the workplace.
As much as I love silence, I also love music. Music uplifts me and speaks to me. Which is probably why the lyrics of a song are so important for me.
Margaret Atwood’s novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, described the horror of the authoritarian regime of Gilead. In this theocracy, self-preservation was the best people could hope for, being powerless to kick against the system. But her sequel, The Testaments, raises the possibility that individuals, with suitable luck, bravery and cleverness, can fight back.
October 2, 2019 marked Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birthday. One of the 20th century’s most iconic figures, Gandhi’s legacy defines how many people think about peace, self-reflection and the path to a more just world.
Mahatma Gandhi is celebrated across the globe as an idealist who used civil disobedience to frustrate and overthrow British colonialists in India.
After Greta Thunberg's UN Address, An Ethicist Weighs In On Our Moral Failure To Act On Climate Change
In her address to the United Nations, Greta Thunberg charged adults with unforgivable moral failure. By failing to enact real change that will reverse global warming trends, grown-ups, she said, have “stolen my dreams and childhood.”
Tens of millions of Americans go to bed hungry at some point every year. While poverty is the primary culprit, some blame food insecurity on the lack of grocery stores in low-income neighborhoods.
A tragedy continues to unfold across the Amazon. Tens of thousands of fires are raging across the region, destroying large swathes of forest in Brazil, Bolivia and Peru.
Vegan activists have historically been vocal in their ‘meat is murder’ campaigns. With a plant-based protein revolution upon us, it’s time vegans rethought their tactics.
Love... has it become a "four-letter word"? In many cases, love has become equated with other things such as attention, rewards, approval, etc. In many cases, what is depicted in movies as love is simply a need for someone or something -- either a need for security, approval, etc.
Climate breakdown, mass extinctions, and extreme inequality threaten the earth’s rich tapestry of life and leave our own fate increasingly uncertain.
When Jon Stewart quit the Daily Show, the satirical news and comedy show he hosted for 16 years until August 2015, he explained to his replacement, Trevor Noah, that he was tired – and angry at the state of politics and political discourse in the US.
Extinction Rebellion (XR) burst onto everybody’s screens with disruptions and mass arrests across the UK and around the world, in protest against government inaction on climate change.
In this time of upheaval, with old systems fighting to keep a stronghold on established patriarchal forms of hierarchy and separation, we are each being summoned to embrace our spiritual warrior to make a difference in our world. We are called to stand in sacred truth...
Not everyone cheered for the school children striking against climate change. In the US, democratic senator Dianne Feinstein accused them of “my way or the highway” thinking.
Have you played Monopoly lately? Or maybe snakes and ladders? These board games are examples of 100-year-old games that many still play today.
I believe there is. When we speak of activism, we usually think of organized activities. Yet beyond that, we all have opportunities to act in ways that reflect our desire for social justice and peace. Whether or not we’re “official” activists, we’re always taking action, all the time. Every day, we’re making choices that will impact not only our own future but also that of others.
Howard Thurman played an important role in the civil rights struggle as a key mentor to many leaders of the movement, including Martin Luther King Jr., among others.
The principle I am invoking here is called “morphic resonance,” a term coined by the biologist Rupert Sheldrake. It holds as a basic property of nature that forms and patterns are contagious: that once something happens somewhere, it induces the same thing to happen elsewhere.
Approximately one in five Americans participated in a protest or rally between early 2016 and early 2018, according to a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll.
To be “in this world but not of it” is the ultimate challenge. It's so much easier to withdraw from the craziness or get lost in it. Trauma specialists identify isolated incidents of extreme stress, but who considers the daily damage from living in this madhouse prison called civilization? Especially when...
Swedish academic Hans Rosling has identified a worrying trend: not only do many people across advanced economies have no idea that the world is becoming a much better place, but they actually even think the opposite.
We must believe that we are capable of creating “a place of love and mutual assistance and understanding.” This is how visionary Tim Berners-Lee described the utopianist John Perry Barlow at the time of his death, adding: “I don’t think he was naïve.”
Chances are that you, like me, feel called to make a difference in this rapidly changing world. Today, more people than ever are feeling their own “divine dissatisfaction” or “blessed unrest” and want to make a difference. Yet also, unfortunately, it’s easy to get bogged down in not knowing how or where to begin.
Sociologists understand experiences of violence and neglect in childhood are part of what’s known as a Toxic Socialization (TS) process. Put simply, TS is a socialization process characterized by violence and neglect. Violence includes emotional, psychological, spiritual and physical violence. Neglect includes neglect of our physical, emotional, psychological and cognitive needs.
In the thick of 1968’s seismic social upheavals, Native Americans also reached for their rights, and activists renewed their campaign for recognition and status as fully sovereign nations.
Violent protests can undercut public support for popular causes, according to new research inspired by recent confrontations between white nationalist protesters and anti-racist counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, and Berkeley, California.
While outrage is generally considered a hurdle in the path to civil discourse, new research suggests outrage—specifically, moral outrage—may have beneficial outcomes, such as inspiring people to take part in long-term collective action.
The duelling sides in today’s cultural wars about “Western civilization” are united in one thing, at least - each is inclined to gloss over the extent to which “Western civilisation” has always been deeply complex and divided.
An unsung shero of the early 20th century, Rose Schneiderman organized women to fight for laws to protect them from sexual harassment and assault in the workplace.
There seems to be so many things going on these days that need to be addressed. I compare the situation to a "healing crisis". You may have had a weakness in your body for years, and then the situation becomes acute, obvious, and unacceptable. It is the same with the world around us...
As the debate about the treatment of women rages across the United States, one Supreme Court nominee arrived at her confirmation hearing widely acknowledged as a trailblazer in establishing women’s rights.
To those who take the bus or refuse plastic toothbrushes: Don’t listen to the cynics. Research shows the little things matter.
The United States media has been awash with debates about civility in recent months after a number of officials in Donald Trump’s administration have been heckled and shamed in public places.
It is not often that a neighbourhood squabble is remembered as a world-historical event. In the summer of 1846, Henry David Thoreau spent a single night in jail in Concord, Massachusetts after refusing to submit his poll tax to the local constable. This minor act of defiance would later be immortalised in Thoreau’s essay ‘On the Duty of Civil Disobedience’ (1849)
What would be good for us to expand? Our caring heart would be a great place to start. We can start caring more about people around us and about the planet in general. Yes, of course we care, but we do so in a general and impersonal way.
Trust and faith. These two items are in very high demand these days. But, come to think of it, they've been in high demand throughout the ages, it is simply that we now, in this chaotic world we live in, are feeling it more deeply and closely...
It seems clear that someone needs to rebuild trust between the media and the communities it serves. But how? Algorithmic upgrades are not the only answer.
If we were able to remember how we felt as a child learning to crawl, we probably would remember looking on with amazement at the giants we saw around us. This memory might help us when we are learning a technical skill, or a behavioral skill such as unconditional love, patience...
Antibiotic resistance is an example of a collective action problem. These are problems where what is individually rational leads to a collectively undesirable outcome. Small things that many of us do, often on a daily basis, can have disastrous consequences in aggregate. The most challenging problems humanity is facing are in one way or another collective action problems.
When 17 students and teachers were murdered on what should have been a peaceful school day, students across the US took to the streets to demand change.
Forget Monopoly. There are new games that challenge us to turn our competitive drive toward solving social problems.
Imagination, as Hawaiian Native rights advocate Poka Laenui describes it, is more than an antidote to hopelessness. It is a source of power.
The first year of Donald Trump’s presidency has inspired a fresh wave of women’s movements.
The stable concept of identifying ourselves as Hungarian, Dutch, Vietnamese, Maori, or whatever, is falling apart. A new energy is sweeping through the planet, an energy that is not local, not just planetary, but cosmic. Now you have to stand in the Light and fight for the whole planet. You now...
After this last tumultuous year of political rancor and racial animus, many people could well be asking what can sustain them over the next coming days: How do they make the space for self-care alongside a constant call to activism?
In the digital era, politicians and government agencies frequently find themselves the target of criticism on social media.
Margaret Mead is famous for noting, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." In many communities there are numerous groups for individuals to support one another's efforts to make changes in their lives and in the world.
The United Nations climate conference in Bonn, Germany, is an enormous event with a complex agenda.
Using the hashtag #metoo, thousands of women around the world have posted on social media sharing their stories of male violence, particularly in the workplace.
I need to remind myself not to waste time. Not to click on too many hyperlinks and certainly not to spend to much time on Facebook. Not to distract myself with too much retail therapy at the antique mall or on Amazon. Not to obsess over whether my...
Donald Trump seems addicted to violence. It shapes his language, politics and policies. He revels in a public discourse that threatens, humiliates and bullies.
I was listening to a news reporter in Texas listing all of the destruction, and then he started talking about all of the volunteers who have showed up to help, and he started to cry. Through tears, he said that he has never seen humanity show up in such beautiful ways to be of service and help others in need.
Anger, rage and a desire for revenge are all reasonable and justified in the face of armed attacks, abuse and exploitation. What matters is what we do with these things.
There’s no shortage of media reports listing which groups are taking donations, often with scant guidance about what kinds of relief these organizations can offer.
While many anti-fascists offered serious and potent arguments against Hitler, comedians like Charlie Chaplin responded to the mortal threat that the Nazis posed in a different way: They used humor to highlight the absurdity and hypocrisy of both the message and its notorious messenger.
The flipside of the populism coin is voter ambivalence about “democracy” as we know it. Ambivalence about democracy might just save it...
Protesters have recently been out in force in Russia, Poland, Hungary, northern Morocco and Venezuela; sizeable democracy marches have mobilized to mark key moments in Hong Kong and Turkey
Organizing Human Chain Saves Drowning Family: Can A Similar Approach Save Our Drowning Human Family?
We always feel heartened by tales of heroism, and we celebrate the individual hero or "shero". It's even more heartening when the "hero" is a self-organizing, spontaneous group of people who see what needs to be done, and then do it.
While there is much to critique about the news media in this age of “post-truth” within a landscape dominated by a handful of media conglomerates, we need the press to hold our leaders and institutions accountable. Locally, when the occasion calls for it, we should laud the press.
I now call the 4th of July "Independents Day" as I've come to realize that the only way we the people can take our country back -- and forward -- is by declaring our independence from the two political parties, the two-party duopoly, and the two competing narratives that keep us divided ... and conquered.
Forecasting political unrest is a challenging task, especially in this era of post-truth and opinion polls.
The primary ongoing question of your life is: are you going to choose same-old, same-old, or are you going to explore new possibilities? In other words, are you going to live in the conditioned but comfortable cocoon of your ego, or are you going to...
When Bernie Sanders took to the stage at this year’s Hay Festival, it was to a room of cheers and clapping.
When I was ten years old and attending an elementary school called Mountainview School, my mother decided to have a little chat with my school director about the lack of trees on the school property. She argued that although the view of the mountain was lovely, the boring grassy lawn was not.
All Americans are lucky to live in a country brimming with public resources that everyone can share.
In a TV debate to mark the official start of the French presidential election campaign, far-right candidate Marine Le Pen was accused of “twisting the truth” by her centrist opponent Emmanuel Macron.
While we work to change the government, we can’t forget that we can also make big change ourselves by starting small and local.
Trump’s secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, has said Ayn Rand’s novel “Atlas Shrugged” is his favorite book.
Thanks to the criticisms they’ve leveled in articles, interviews, tweets and letters to the editor, we know that many contemporary authors, from Philip Roth to J.K. Rowling, have a dim view of Donald J. Trump.
Einstein told us that we cannot solve the significant problems we face at the same level of thinking at which we were when we created the problems. He was right. Yet we are trying to do just that. We are fighting terrorism, poverty, criminality, cultural...
In the aftermath of the 2016 U.S. elections, numerous accounts surfaced of nefarious content creators profiting by posting fake content on social media.
On Inauguration Day, a group of students, researchers and librarians gathered in a nondescript building on the north side of the University of California, Los Angeles campus, against a backdrop of pelting rain.
Instead of falling to the Nazi party, Norway broke through to a social democracy. Their history shows us polarization is nothing to despair over. The key to avoiding fascism? An organized left with a strong vision and broad support.
After intense political activism, an attack from the Trump administration on public lands has been shot down. The fight is far from over, but with the unexpected fightback of hunting and fishing groups, attempts to privatize federal land will meet new opposition.
When 500 refugees arrived in their community, residents of Zaandam were wary. But by the time the newcomers could apply for residency status in Europe, neighbors didn’t want them to leave.
Have your passports ready, watch your language, and other advice from a Yale history professor.
Far from the corrosive political circus unfolding in Washington, DC, local citizen groups are improving conditions for the people in their own backyards.
With help from activist manual written by former congressional staffers, Republicans face angry crowds in home states
Community groups have the power to create long-lasting change. Ioby, an organization based in New York City, New York, that works on neighborhood mobilization, recently published its "Recipes for Change" toolkit.
On April 4, 1967, exactly one year before his assassination, Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his famous “Beyond Vietnam” speech in Harlem’s Riverside Church. In it, he spoke of being confronted with “the fierce urgency of now.”
After his unexpected election win, the immediate question was what would US President Donald Trump actually do?
Recent reports indicate that far-right groups from the Ukraine have come to Brazil to recruit neo-Nazis to fight against pro-Russian rebels. Western readers reacted with shock and fascination
The protests that have erupted since Donald Trump’s most recent executive order was signed have been impressive.
As a professor of Russian literature, I couldn’t help but notice that comedian Aziz Ansari was inadvertently channeling novelist Leo Tolstoy when he claimed that “change doesn’t come from presidents” but from “large groups of angry people.”
Donald Trump, in his quest to “make America great again,” is poised to put in place many regressive policies that are fundamentally at odds with what are generally considered progressive values such as transparency, inclusiveness, equity, fairness and dignity for all
To some liberals, Donald Trump’s inauguration portends doom for the republic; to many conservatives, it’s a crowning moment for the nation that will usher in an era of growth and optimism.
The Women’s March on Washington illustrated what a wide variety of issues women will have in the years ahead with Donald Trump.
How do we listen and learn from each other, with our very different experiences and beliefs about life, yet find a way through it to a place of love and healing?