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Dwayne Booth (aka Mr. Fish) | TSA / TruthDig.com

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Try a Spiritual Progressive Approach to Thanksgiving This Year

No matter how difficult it may be in a world filled with pain and cruelty, there are moments when it is important to stop looking at all the problems and  focus on all the good.   And that's part of what Thanksgiving could be about for you this year.

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A note from  Rabbi Michael Lerner, Tikkun/Network of Spiritual Progressives

No matter how difficult it may be in a world filled with pain and cruelty, there are moments when it is important to stop looking at all the problems and  focus on all the good.   And that's part of what Thanksgiving could be about for you this year. Life is so amazing, and our universe so awesome, filled with realities that transcend our capacity to comprehend, and inviting us to awe and wonder and radical amazement!  Give yourself and your friends a day dedicated to truly feeling those kinds of feelings!!!!

I don't mean only a moment of sharing "something we all appreciate" during the traditional meal. I mean, in addition, actually consciously shaping  the day in such a way that  the focus of attention throughout the day is on giving thanks.

It might start with a group of friends or family taking a walk to visit some part of nature that they really love. And expressing thanks for it.  Or, you might consider structuring some time (an hour before or after dinner, perhaps?) in which each person gets to be by her or himself for ten minutes and encouraged to focus on getting in touch with the things that s/he really appreciates in her/his life, and to find some way to offer thanks (a song, a prayer, words said in silence or aloud, a hymn or tune you want to offer the Universe or God--some way in which you let out of your mouth your thanks for all the goodness in the world and in your own world). If that's not likely to occur where you go for Thanksgiving meal, create this space for
yourself earlier in the day.

It might continue with each family member, guest, or friend being asked to bring something (a book, a poem, a video, a movie, a song, a musical instrument to play some music, a cd or dvd) that they believe will give you an experience for which you are grateful or to facilitate your encounter with or memory of things about which you are already grateful. Dedicate some time in the afternoon to each person sharing that with each other--and that can add another dimension of thanks.

Then, you might consider asking each person to share something that they particularly appreciate in another person who is there at the gathering.  Or to tell about some other person who has been a special teacher, friend, or care-giver to you during the past year. Even if you are only a guest at someone else's celebration, you can initiate or at least suggest this to the people you meet there! To prepare, you might even make a list of the things you are truly grateful for in your life before you go to someone else's home for Thanksgiving.

Fully giving thanks makes it easier to see the Spirit of God, the special dignity and goodness, that is in everything and everyone--and that will make it easier for you to less reactive when someone says something specific at your Thanksgiving table that seems out of whack with your own moral sensibilities about the political or cultural worlds. And it's in that state of compassion and recognition of the Spirit of God in everyone you can feel comfortable to talk to the others around the table about the one billion people who are hungry this and every day, and about our proposed Global Marshall Plan and urging them to help you get your local elected city council to endorse it, and your state legislators and Congressional reps and Senators to back it (first step: to read it)!

And in the meantime to take small steps of alleviating hunger, for example by reading and then following the suggestions in Peter Singer’s book The Life You Can Save.

I think you will find that when you've followed some of these steps preparatory to the meal, that you can then turn the conversation to talk about the absurdity of the War in Afghanistan and the misguided nature of the War on Terror, and the Tikkun alternative ( the strategy of generosity and the Global Marshall Plan). Or talk about the ongoing tragedy in the Middle East and the need for a progressive Middle Path which is both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine, and refuses to play the "blame game" of which side is "really bad" and which side is "really good" but instead recognizes that both sides have co-created this mess. You might even want to discuss the misguided move by the US to offer military incentives to Israel to restart negotiations (see the piece about this on our website). Or you might want to talk about the recent US midterm elections and the analysis of that situation I presented (the editorial in the Nov/Dec issue of Tikkun) and by Peter Gabel which you could access by clicking here. For all the “realists” at your table ask them how well they think things turned out for Obama and the Democrats these past two years by following the “realistic” path in D.C. rather than fighting for a more progressive or visionary alternative.

You might want to read or send to attendees of your Thanksgiving party in advance a copy of our articles on these issues at Tikkun.org or SpiritualProgressives.org – to help inform the discussion. You’d be amazed at how much easier it is to introduce unconventional or alternative perspectives if the people at the table have received an article on the topic before Thanksgiving (or any other occasion on which you have the opportunity to share a meal with others who might themselves raise controversial topics or find your own views controversial)—because when they see that you have others on your side who have rational arguments, they tend to be less dismissive of your perspective! Or even bring the latest issue of Tikkun or at least a copy of our ESRA—Environmental and Social Responsibility Amendment to the U.S. Constitution—as a way of showing them that there is a real concrete path to restoring democracy and controlling the global selfishness of corporations (or even get them to sign it!!! You can print it from here).

Obviously there are hundreds of other ways to joyfully experience this day, and you can shape the day in the way that works best for you. Based on my experience,my advice is to plan it out before hand to make sure that it is the most nurturing possible day for yourself and for those with whom you will come into contact. Thanksgiving may give you a wonderful opportunity to give back to the world in any of these ways.

And giving thanks is healing to one's own soul, and increases the total love, generosity, and God-energy in the world. The rabbis of the Talmud, in addressing the need everyone has to "give back," said that even the poorest of the poor should give something to charity for others in need--recognizing that the act of giving is itself a life-enhancing act that should be available to even those who have almost nothing materially, because they still have other human capacities that enable them to give in some way of themselves to others, just as we should give to them!  And I remember how empowering it felt to me and all my fellow grammar school students at Far Brook Country Day School when we brought a vegetable or fruit a day before Thanksgiving to the annual Thanksgiving celebration and these offerings were then brought to a nearby orphanage. Giving to others is a gift to the soul and so is giving thanks!

Many blessings for a very rewarding and spiritually real Thanksgiving.

Rabbi Michael Lerner

Section(s): 

Close the School of the Americas

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Nov. 19-21: Converge on Fort Benning

School of the Americas Watch

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From November 19-21, 2010, thousands will gather at the gates of Fort Benning to stand up for justice and call for the SOA/WHINSEC to be shut down! Below are some helpful links for your trip planning, and a sneak peak into what SOA Watch has lined up for this year! (para información en español, haga click aquí)

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Engage in Nonviolent Direct Action to Close the SOA/WHINSEC
This year there will be different ways for people to be involved in the Saturday action including crossing the line of the base of Fort Benning which risks federal arrest, or a city side action, outside the permitted area. But note that you may also participate without risking arrest. SOA Watch has permits for the activities in front of the base, and the acts of civil disobedience for those risking arrest will be clearly marked.

Stage Program

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Rebel Diaz

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The stage program at the gates of Fort Benning will take place on Saturday, November 20, 2010 from 11:30am - 4pm and on Sunday, November 21, 2010 from 8am - 2pm. The program will feature leaders from the resistance against the illegitimate U.S.-supported government in Honduras; Padre Jesus Alberto Franco, a renowned leader from Colombia, risking his life working with Afro-Colombian, indigenous and mixed-race farmers in resistance; Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Detroit; Marie Dennis, director of the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns and Co-President of Pax Christi International; United Auto Worker president Bob King; the Hip Hop group Rebel Diaz from the Bronx; the puppetistas, musicians and many other beautiful people.

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Wall Street's Stranglehold on Our Democracy Must Be Broken

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  • Progressive economist Simon Johnson talks about the fight to reform Wall Street, what Robert Rubin should do with his money, and why Jamie Dimon is the most dangerous man in America.
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  • Business buys itself a new government
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Zach Carter and Simon JohnsonAlterNet

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Simon Johnson

Zach Carter: Your push to break up the largest banks into smaller banks that can actually fail without wreaking havoc on the economy has been very well-received by progressives. But historically, the IMF and the Federal Reserve are not exactly hotbeds of progressive thought. How did you and Paul Volcker become the vanguard of the economic left?

Simon Johnson: The ideas that we're advancing both in Baseline Scenario and in the book should appeal to people on the right, the center and the left. There's an article by Arnold Kling that we wrote about on Baseline Scenario. He's a libertarian, which I am not, but he's come around to our way of thinking about the banks. If you think about it from the right, our financial system is just monstrously unfair. It's not in any way a market economy to have these banks who are so big that the government can't let them fail. They have funding advantages over other banks, and those advantages only encourage them to get bigger. That's just not reasonable.

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Business buys itself a new government, Nick Coleman, Minneapolis Star Tribune | MN

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  • Corporate donors, newly emboldened by a court ruling, played dirty and won.
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  • So that's what a $4 billion campaign looks like!
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Click on deficit problem

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Play With This Toy

BooMan, Booman Tribune

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Thomas Sklarski

Photo Credit: AMagill

Yes, you can solve the deficit problem, and you don't have to touch Social Security to do it. You don't have to charge admission to the Smithsonian museums to do it. You don't have to defund NPR and PBS to do it. You don't have to slash veteran's health benefits to do it. See for yourself.

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Living in the Age of Imposed Amnesia

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  • "We live in an age in which punitive justice and a theater of cruelty have become the defining elements of a mainstream cultural apparatus that trades in historical and social amnesia.
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  • Imposed amnesia is the modus operandi of the current moment.
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  • The Origin of America’s Intellectual Vacuum
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  • Empire of Illusion
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Henry A. Giroux, Truthout

"We live in an age in which punitive justice and a theater of cruelty have become the defining elements of a mainstream cultural apparatus that trades in historical and social amnesia. How else to explain the electoral sweep that just put the most egregious Republican Party candidates back in power? These are the people who gave us Katrina, made torture a state policy, promoted racial McCarthyism, celebrated immigrant bashing, pushed the country into two disastrous wars, built more prisons than schools, bankrupted the public treasury, celebrated ignorance over scientific evidence ('half of new Congressmen do not believe in global warming') and promoted the merging of corporate and political power."

For the public to forget so quickly the legacy of the injustices, widespread corruption and moral abyss created by this group (along with a select number of conservative democrats) points to serious issues with the pedagogical conditions and cultural apparatuses that made the return of the living dead possible. The moral, political and memory void that enabled this vengeful and punishing historical moment reached its shameful apogee by allowing the pathetic George W. Bush to reappear with a 44 percent popularity rating and a book tour touting his memoirs - the ultimate purpose of which is to erase any vestige of historical consciousness and make truth yet another casualty of the social amnesia that has come to characterize the American century.

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The Origin of America’s Intellectual Vacuum, Chris Hedges, TruthDig

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  • The silencing of radicals has left academics and intellectuals without the language, vocabulary of class war and analysis to critique the ideology of globalism, the savagery of unfettered capitalism and the ascendancy of the corporate state.
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  • Ignorance as Authenticity
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  • How propaganda is used in the U.S. to control it citizens
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Empire of Illusion, Jeff Dietrich, The Catholic Agitator

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  • It's all about spectacle and debauchery. People are so disconnected from reality that they don't know how to read what is happening--they cannot grasp that the walls are tumbling down--and so they retreat into absurdities. This is the disease gripping American society today.
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  • Building a Nation of Know-Nothings
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  • Lady Gaga: Pop Star for a Country and an Empire in Decline
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Section(s): 

The Origin of America’s Intellectual Vacuum

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  • The silencing of radicals has left academics and intellectuals without the language, vocabulary of class war and analysis to critique the ideology of globalism, the savagery of unfettered capitalism and the ascendancy of the corporate state.
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  • Ignorance as Authenticity
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  • How propaganda is used in the U.S. to control it citizens
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Chris Hedges, TruthDig

Submitted by Evergreene Digest Contributing Editor Lydia Howell

Like Chandler Davis, screenwriters Dalton Trumbo, left, and John Howard Lawson, were sent to prison for refusing to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee.

The blacklisted mathematics instructor Chandler Davis, after serving six months in the Danbury federal penitentiary for refusing to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), warned the universities that ousted him and thousands of other professors that the purges would decimate the country’s intellectual life.

“You must welcome dissent; you must welcome serious, systematic, proselytizing dissent—not only the playful, the fitful, or the eclectic; you must value it enough, not merely to refrain from expelling it yourselves, but to refuse to have it torn from you by outsiders,” he wrote in his 1959 essay “...From an Exile.” “You must welcome dissent not in a whisper when alone, but publicly so potential dissenters can hear you. What potential dissenters see now is that you accept an academic world from which we are excluded for our thoughts. This is a manifest signpost over all your arches, telling them: Think at your peril. You must not let it stand. You must (defying outside power; gritting your teeth as we grit ours) take us back.”

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Ignorance as Authenticity, Joe Klein, Swampland

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  • There is something profoundly diseased about a society that idolizes its ignoramuses and disdains its experts.
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  • People Are Allergic to the Facts
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How propaganda is used in the U.S. to control it citizens, Jack Finley, Veterans for Peace

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  • This video can provide a one and one-half hour of a Marketing 101 class on how rulers govern.
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  • The End of America? Naomi Wolf Thinks It Could Happen
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Business buys itself a new government

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  • Corporate donors, newly emboldened by a court ruling, played dirty and won.
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  • So that's what a $4 billion campaign looks like!
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  • Wall Street's Stranglehold on Our Democracy Must Be Broken
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Nick Coleman, Minneapolis Star Tribune | MN

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If you like reading this article, consider contributing a cuppa jove to Evergreene Digest--using the donation button in the above right-hand corner—so we can bring you more just like it.

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If you're worried about the results of the 2010 Minnesota election, relax! We're getting some of the best representatives that money can buy.

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What's good for General Motors is good for the country, they used to say. Here in Minnesota, we have a different way of saying it: What's good for business is a Legislature whose members know what's good for them. With a Republican takeover of both houses of the Legislature, including a Senate that had been controlled by Democrats since 1973, business should be very good.

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Wall Street's Stranglehold on Our Democracy Must Be Broken, Zach Carter and Simon JohnsonAlterNet

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  • Progressive economist Simon Johnson talks about the fight to reform Wall Street, what Robert Rubin should do with his money, and why Jamie Dimon is the most dangerous man in America.
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  • Business buys itself a new government
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