There Is No Fear In Love

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Hatred never ceases by hatred; by love alone is it healed.  This is the ancient and eternal law.

-Buddha’s Little Instruction Book by Jack Kornfield (find it here).

It’s Valentine’s Day again.  Sure, it’s become a day of splurging on greeting cards, flowers, chocolates, etc, to show our romantic love for our partners.  But, I hope on this day of celebrating love we can remember to show some love for all of humanity too.  There seems to be a shortage of love lately.

In this increasingly divisive climate of fear, anger, and hatred, let’s all pause and remember to treat each other with compassion.  Let’s treat each other like the humans we all are.  Let’s honor our differences rather than attacking each other for them.  Let’s stop fearing each other, for we are all people who love, and are loved.  And there is no fear in love.

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Leaves Are Changing

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The leaves are changing color, and the days are taking on that golden fall tint.  September is settling in and the nights are growing colder.  I’ve always loved the season changes.  I nearly always find myself anxious for the switch from one passion to another, from the river to the slopes, usually with some quality single-track time in between.  I’ve been anticipating this fall for awhile, as it promises a return to those long-neglected passions.

School has started, and I’ve sent my youngest out into the world for Kindergarten.  An empty and silent house is perhaps the greatest, and most eagerly anticipated, change for me this past week.  I’m suddenly rediscovering just how many hours there really are in a day.

Change is also in store for my career as a writer.  I will no longer be contributing articles to Newsbud, though I wish them success.  I’m hoping to write more here on the blog again.  More importantly, with all this newly recovered time on my hands, I plan to finish my long overdue novel.  I’m eager to return my focus to fiction for a while, and I’m feeling a great sense of freedom and inspiration.

The leaves are changing, and I’m excited.

Never Enough Time

It is April already, spring is upon us here in Central Oregon, and it is beautiful outside.  It is the sort of weather that makes it impossible for me to remain inside, dutifully typing away on the computer.  So things might get a little bit quiet around here, and I apologize.  I started several posts here in the past week, only to set them aside after a paragraph or two to go play outside.  And, I confess, I’ve also been pretty distracted by my fictional endeavors too.  I’m increasingly anxious to get this novel finished and published!  There is never enough time to get everything done.

I mentioned starting a few posts this past week, and I decided this morning to just combine a couple here rather than go back to finish them.  As I said, the weather is beautiful, way too nice for me to spend much time here!

First, the Panama Papers, released by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) last Sunday.  Everyone is talking about them, there’s plenty of good posts out there analyzing the coverage, and I don’t really have anything to add.  But, I do want to say that there is a lot of speculation being tossed around because the leaked data itself isn’t available to the public.  Of course the leak is being framed and micro-managed to serve someone’s (or many someones’) purposes.  Rolled out like a thriller novel or movie, (I’m sure that’s already in the works) to grab our attention and point that attention in the direction desired by those managing the release.

The fact is, leaks happen.  They come in all shapes and sizes, and for many reasons.  How they are framed and spun can be quite telling.  The very fact that the Panama Papers leak is getting so much media attention is telling.   Obviously it was a ‘safe’ leak in the sense that it is unlikely to make anyone in real positions of western power too uncomfortable.  Here is an interesting perspective by Eoin Higgins on why that might be the case.  Also consider this article on the ICIJ’s website describing what looks like a possible cleaning up of any suspicious evidence in Nevada by a Mossack Fonseca owned company.  And remember that this data was leaked to the journalists a year ago.  That’s a pretty fair amount of time for damage control.

What should be demanded of this international consortium of journalists is a full release of the data to the public, to be searched and analyzed freely.  But so far, we are only allowed to view the information through a certain media lens, just as has often been the case with big leaks in the past.  Perhaps this leak will follow the same course as Edward Snowden’s, with the ICIJ destroying the Mossack Fonseca data to protect the source and the journalists, as was the case with Snowden’s data and the Guardian.  But don’t worry, there will surely be copies of the information safely stored elsewhere, to ensure ongoing reporting, as needed, on things that are useful to serve powerful agendas.

Which leads me to the incredible idea of media that isn’t funded by large corporations and powerful elites.  If investigative journalists could be freed from those ties, they would be free to report information without framing it to fit a narrative dictated by those powerful sponsors.  A leak such as this Mossack Fonseca one could be released to the public, allowing everyone to see the information, and determine their own conclusions.  The reality today is that the media serves only the less-than-one-percent of the population to manipulate and control the rest of us.  Because they own it.

So why don’t we, the people, fund our own source of information?  Of course, there are many great sources for independent news and analysis available for anyone taking the time to find them, and there are plenty of willing supporters supplying well earned donations to those sources.  But why not help fund something even bigger?  Something that might actually give all those independent sources a larger platform in order to reach a much larger audience.  A real chance to counter the corporate owned media and their dictated narrative.  Why not?

The Kickstarter campaign for Newsbud is down to the final six days.  The total amount donated is nowhere near the goal, but the donations have continued to come in daily.  If the Kickstarter campaign had more time, I think the goal would be reached, but it is limited to sixty days by the crowdfunding platform.  There is certainly support for such an idea, as is demonstrated by the nearly $190,000.00 pledged as of this posting.  We may not make the goal in six days, but I hope that the support for this idea will remain strong.  If at first you fail, try, try again, right?

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Newsbud: Destroying Distortion With Integrity

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The reporting on the Malheur refuge occupation in Harney County has, for me, been a perfect example of how corporate news networks manipulate the narrative of events to fit their own position on the issues and people involved. Admittedly, I have questioned corporate media for a very long time, for many reasons.  Perhaps it started for me with the way events were covered between September 2001 and March of 2003.  Confusion, lies and omissions, controlling (and co-opting) the narrative, and what do you know, endless war resulted.  There have been so many big events since (and before) then that show the same patterns in the media as the narrative is spun to serve the purpose of their masters.  So, the way the narrative in Harney County has been spun hasn’t surprised me, but it has been an up close view of the process.

With this situation taking place so close to home, I have had the opportunity to communicate with some of the people involved.  I have had the opportunity to learn about the underlying issues, to try and get a genuine understanding of why the protests and occupation happened.  Now, I certainly don’t expect everyone to come away from this story changing everything about their own opinions on the matter.  I don’t expect people to agree on every aspect of the issues involved.  It is, after all, a tangled combination of complicated and sensitive matters.  But, what I do expect, or rather, what I would like to be able to expect, is some honest reporting.

It has been sadly lacking.  There have been some honest and unbiased stories here and there, scattered throughout a wide range of sources.  But those were quickly buried in avalanches of speculation, distortion, name-calling, and outright hatred.  Social media has played an increasing role in this as well.  On one hand, social media has given us a platform to communicate with people involved in these stories and to share what we learn.  On the other hand, in what appears to me to be a desperate attempt to keep their stranglehold on the narrative by the media and its puppet-masters, it has become a place to whip the hateful and divisive rhetoric into a frenzy.

What is perhaps even more notable to me as I’ve followed the story obsessively, is the meticulous avoidance by the mainstream media of any perspectives that challenge the narrative the federal government has an interest in maintaining.  After all, if it isn’t in the news, we Americans won’t bother to look at or think about it.  Again, social media, with all of its clever algorithms, plays a powerful role.

How many have taken the time to look beyond our own assumptions about the Malheur refuge occupation and the shooting of Robert Lavoy Finicum?  How many have bothered to challenge the media’s presentation of the story rather than simply allowing it to shape or reinforce our own perspectives?

Can we not see that an inability, or unwillingness to question the distorted narrative handed to us will only lead to more excessive police force, more ambushes conveniently hidden from public view?  More lies about safe drinking water?  More invasions of foreign lands, more slaughtering of countless civilians?  More division, more laws, more repression?  Have we become so hopelessly detached from reality that we can’t see that every American is facing tyranny?  The front line is different for all of us, but the enemy is the same.  We are all losing our rights.

You may not see or feel it yet.  It may not have touched your life yet, and your news might not be telling you about it yet.  I wonder at what point the citizens of Germany woke up to the tyranny of the Nazi regime?  I doubt the media in Germany in the 1930’s and 1940’s was doing much reporting on all the atrocities being committed by the Nazis.  And the same can be said for our own media today when it comes to the atrocities being committed by the US government.

I’m sickened by that fact.  Rather than bowing to the government’s narrative, or acting as advertising for mega-corporations, the press is supposed to report the truth.  The press is supposed to investigate all angles and ask the hard questions.  The press is supposed to be a weapon for the people to wield to maintain transparency and accountability within government.

We can do better.  We need to do better.  And we can’t wait any longer.  Let’s join together, and make all those corporate, narrative-spinning, war profiteer lap dog media networks irrelevant.  Let’s make the Tamir Rices, Eric Garners, Lavoy Finicums, lead-poisoned Flint families, PTSD suffering Veterans, homeless, under-educated children, victims of wars of aggression, victims of excessive prison sentences…WE THE PEOPLE relevant again.

Please join me on Valentine’s Day in supporting Newsbud.  This is an opportunity to truly make a difference by restoring integrity in media, and we can all have a hand in it.  Please take a look at Newsbud today, sign up for email updates about our kickstarter campaign and more information about the project.  On Sunday, February 14th, we will launch the kickstarter campaign with some live-stream discussions with the Newsbud team.  Join in, add your voice to the live chats or tweet your questions or comments using #NewsbudLive.  Together we can do this!