Renowned activist Winona LaDuke reflects on the power of an earth-based economics in a moment on our planet that is known in indigenous circles as “the time of the seventh fire.” She asks the questions: What are you going to do right now to heal our relationships with life? And are you going to choose the path of regeneration or destruction? Her talk comes to us from the organization Slow Money. In part two of the show, we turn to the Nonviolence Report with Michael Nagler to hear how kids are defying their parents by wearing masks, basketball players are showing up in solidarity for Black lives, and a leader clinging to power and position for 25-years in Belarus is on his way out.
Stephanie: Welcome everybody to another episode of Nonviolence Radio. I’m your host, Stephanie Van Hook. On today’s show, we’ll hear from Winona LaDuke. Winona is an internationally renowned activist working on issues of sustainable development, renewable energy in food systems, and she lives and works on the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota. She’s also a two-time vice-presidential candidate with Ralph Nader for the Green Party.
This is a keynote address to the SOIL 2017 conference which was hosted by Slow Money. You can find them at SlowMoney.org. Let’s tune in now to Winona.
Winona: Hello. Nice to see you all. [Native dialect] Hello, my relatives. Very nice to see you here today. I wanted to say a couple of things as I got here. First, you know, the crazy times that there are in that we are in. There are hurricanes to the south of biblical proportion, you know? Fires to west of biblical proportion. Some orange-haired crazy man screaming at us from the east. [Laughter] Pretty much, right? [Cheering] Causing problems of biblical proportion. Is that right? And I’m not even a Christian. So, I was just like, “Wow,” you know?
So, the question is, what are we going to do? What are we going to do? And I feel like that’s a little bit of this moment that we are in and what we are – what we are going to do here. We’re going to talk about that. I want to also acknowledge the Arapaho people from here, in their land [Oma-akeen], upon which we stand. So, as I thought about what to discuss here today. I want to talk about this time. And what I refer to is kind of this time. In our prophesies this is called, “The time of the Seventh Fire,” or the time that is told by – A long time ago our prophets told us this time would come. It’s known as the time of the Seventh Fire.
And in that time, we are told that we will have a choice between two paths or two [miignas]. And they say that one path will be well-worn, but it will be scorched. And the other path they say will not be well-worn and it will be green. And it would be our choice upon which path to embark. And that is what the Anishinaabe prophets told our people many, many, many years ago.
And what I would say is that I think that that is not just where we are as Anishinaabe people. I think that’s where we are as North America. I think that’s where we are as a world. It’s a question of where you going to go? What are you going to do? And what are you going to do in this very moment that we are in?
So, I’m going to tell you some stories about that. I’m going to talk about two economies. The scorched path economy, I’ve come to refer to as the Wendigo economy. The Wendigo economy, or the economy of a cannibal, one which destroys its mother. One which destroys every source of wealth upon which it would live. Or the economy of land-based indigenous peoples. And I’m going to talk about that this is the time to move ahead.
So, to begin with, let me say this is where I live. [Native dialect] Round Lake. I live in the White Earth Reservation in northern Minnesota. A reservation of 47 lakes and 500 bodies of water. I’m very privileged to live in the same place that a lot of my great-great-great-greats lived. In our territory, this is this month here would be the month they would call, [Native dialect]. When leaves start changing and then the leaves start falling. [Native dialect] which follows it. Which would be a moon that would be called, “[Native dialect], the Freezing-over Moon.” And then we have a moon that follows, [Native dialect] and then [Native dialect]. And then we have a moon called, [Native dialect] which is the Sucker Moon. That’s around February.
And then we have a moon called, “[Native dialect].” That’s a hard, crusted snow moon around March. I think that’s about the same here. Where you get a thaw and a freeze and then a thaw and you get snow again. And so, it’s the hard crust comes on the snow. [Native dialect]. That’s what we call that. Also known as the moon you don’t want to do a face plant in the snow. [Laughter]
The moon that follows that is [Native dialect] which is the Maple Syruping Moon. [Native dialect], the Flower Moon. [Native dialect], the Strawberry Moon. That’s the moon in my territory. [Native dialect] is the Strawberry Moon. [Native dialect], the Blueberry Moon, the moon that follows that in the north country is the Blueberry Moon. And then perhaps, the moon we waited for for so long which is [Native dialect] the Wild Rice Making Moon.
Those are the moons of the Anishinaabe people. And I thought I would share those with you because those are very much about the land and the water and the life that you have been talking about today. Because we have an entire worldview and an entire time, this calendar that’s really based on the natural world.
I thought you might like to hear some of the names in some of my language. And then did you also notice that none of those moons is named after a Roman emperor? [Laughter] Did you all see that? Right? So, I just want to say it’s okay. You’ll be good without empire. Just let it go, okay? Just let it go. [Cheering] It’s like way too much work. And that is really a little bit of this time, this time when we have this opportunity to think where we’re going. And it’s possible that some of the, you know, paradigm which got us into this situation may not have the answers to get us out.
And so, it’s going to be important to be the people that have the courage to look into the paradigms that will save us all as we work together.
I kind of feel like that’s where we are, you know, no matter where we come from, we’re all in the same boat. And so, let us figure what kind of a future we can make for our children. But as I think about this, I think about let us make America – let’s talk about making America great again, right? [Laughter] And so, my idea of when America was great was when there was 8000 varieties of corn.
And all those corn varieties were developed for so many reasons and are so beautiful. And many of them still exist, but none of those were developed by guys from Monsanto, right? None of those were developed by guys with white suits on. Most of those varieties were actually collected and chosen by women. And women are the best at seed selection because we know not only how it grows, but we know how it saves and how it cooks. And so, that is why historically the best seed savers and a lot of the great seed, you know, collections and development has been by women. And so, I just want to acknowledge that’s when America was great, with great agro-biodiversity, great biodiversity. You know, 50 million buffalo. Single largest migratory herd in the world. That’s when America was great.
You know, you talk about the 28 million cattle in agriculture today that are, you know, in the same territory that once had 50 million buffalo and those buffalo did not require feedlots. Those buffalo knew how to live on prairie grass, the 250 species of prairie grass that existed there. Those buffalo knew how to live. [Laughter] And this is where we got to, right?
And I think that this is kind of the choices that have been made and the choices that should be made in this moment that we are in. So, as I think about now, I’m going to tell you a little bit of my story. This is my territory. I live in a place where I would say we have a pretty sustainable economy. So, you could harvest wild rice on the same lake for 10,000 years. That’s pretty good, huh? And all you have to do is take care of the lake. All you have to do is make sure that you do your prayers and your ceremonies because your lake is going to be good because you’re going to make sure nothing crazy gets into your lake.
And you go out there in the [Native dialect], the Wild Rice Making Moon, and you put your prayers out, and you take your two sticks, your rice knockers and your partner and your pole and your canoe. And you go head out there into the lakes that your ancestors have been on for 10,000 years. And you go push out into the middle of the lake and you smell that fall. You smell what it is to be like in the middle of a lake. And you knock that rice into your canoe, bring one stick over and knock it over like this. That’s how you get that rice in.
And you fill your canoe with wild rice. And then you bring your wild rice in and you bag it up and you parch it over a fire. This is so old, our rice.
This is cosmo-geneology. That’s a painting of some of our magical beings that are spirit beings ricing. That is how long our economy is of this territory. That is how long our economy is and our understanding of wild rice. So, that is my territory.
I’m going to tell you the story of my territory and our little battle and our battle where it is now and our battle where we are going. So, this is our battle. I live in a place where there is no oil. I live in northern Minnesota and there are six big oil pipelines that cross our territory. Those pipelines are by Enbridge Corporation. They are the mainline corridor. They go through that north – along what’s known as Highway 2 because they’re all headed to Superior, which is not only the furthest inland port, the object of desire of many corporations. But it is also how you get into Wisconsin. And you get to Kalamazoo and the Straits of Mackinaw.
Those pipelines that people talk about, they come through us first to get there. And so, there are six old pipelines that have gone through there. And about five years ago a corporation named Enbridge announced that it wanted to bust a whole new corridor that went to the south through my reservation, the White Earth Reservation. Through new territory, some of our best wild rice lakes. And what they were going to is bring a 640,000 barrel per day fracked oil pipeline out of North Dakota. And they were going to bring that pipeline to Superior, and they absolutely had that route.
And the Enbridge Corporation is a Canadian corporation. It’s the single largest pipeline corporation in the world. And what they wanted to do, is that. And so, we said, “No.” We said, “We don’t really think that’s going to work out for us.” And so, we started a resistance, you know. But they had gotten a lot what they wanted in Canada because as nice as we can all say Canada is, it’s a petro state. 90% of their economy is based on their petrodollar and all their heavy extraction. And don’t forget that 75% of the world’s mining corporations are Canadian. The Canadian economy is not nice to anybody. The Canadian economy is lethal to the environment of the world.
And so, they’re coming towards us with this pipeline. And, you know, I said to Enbridge, I said, “That’s not going to work.” I said, “I know you ran over a lot of those reservations up north with 300 people on them and they live out there in the bush with diesel generators and you went right through their reserves.” I said, “We’re not those people. We have 22,000 members in my tribe. We have six big reservations. There’s seven big reservations, but six big reservations in the north. Many of them would be impacted by this pipeline.” I said, “And we’re not going to let you do it.”
And so, we started to fight, you know. And we worked with a lot of local people and a lot of non-Indians got involved. And MM350 got involved. And my friend Miriam Moore got involved. And a group called, “Friends of the Headwaters,” came out and it was a multi-racial alliance was built to fight this pipeline. And Friends of the Headwaters filed a lawsuit which forced an EIS, an Environmental Impact Statement on the pipeline because the State of Minnesota, not thinking about infrastructure, since actually the country doesn’t think about infrastructure – because we have a D in infrastructure. We would be thinking about an infrastructure if we, you know, would move on beyond that.
They were just planning to let it go ahead. And they were court ordered by the Minnesota court to complete an Environmental Impact Statement on that pipeline. And our resistance continued, and we prayed, and we rode our horses. And the lawsuit forced the EIS. And the Enbridge corporation became discouraged. And last year on August 2nd, the Enbridge Corporation announced the cancelation of the Sandpiper Pipeline. [Applause]
So, I want to tell you that it is possible to defeat a large oil pipeline. It is possible, but it is a lot of work, but you have to stay on it. But it is our water. It is our land. It does not belong to corporations. And I think you all know that. That’s why you’re all here.
So, then what happened is the thing that sleazy corporations do, is the Enbridge Corporation took $2.8 billion and invested it in a corporation called, “The Dakota Access Pipeline.” And they went and bankrolled, then Energy Transfer partners, which was not on the best financial terms, to make sure that they could finish that pipeline out there in North Dakota. And so, our people followed them out there, as did many of you. I know that a lot of you went to Standing Rock. How many of you went to Standing Rock? Thank you for going out there. Give them a hand. Give them a hand. And thank all of you for supporting us out there. Thank all of you for supporting the organizations out there and for supporting the people on the ground, any of your family that are water protectors – because we’re all water protectors.
So, this is what we found out there – and you know what we saw out there because a lot of you went out there and a lot of you were not watching Fox News. You actually saw what happened out there. And you know we took a lot of hits, you know? And the questions of should a corporation have more rights than the people? Is a corporation for civil society at this point where you’re in this era of the End the Fossil Fuel Era, where the fossil fuel corporations are thrashing to keep their pipelines?
And so, you know, you get a state like North Dakota, which we refer to as, “The Deep North.” That’s what we call that state. And I guess you all figured out why, huh? When they start doing that to our people and they think it’s okay, you know? And then things happen like this in North Dakota which happens everywhere, but this is when they take this equipment – this peace of equipment here is called, “The MRAP,” the Mine Resistant Armored Personnel carrier. And that’s intended to drive through buildings.
And that piece of equipment belongs to Stutsman County, as you can see on the side. And that piece of equipment was surplussed by the military to civilian police forces. And that is something that Obama stopped, but then Mr. Trump just rebooted, right? The is a piece of equipment that a civilian police force in North Dakota should not have, right?
That second piece of equipment there is called an LRAD which is intended to blow out your ear drums. That’s what was used on a lot of our people out there. Very, very violent, violent times and very violent battle over that pipeline, the Dakota Access Pipeline. A lot of our people were hurt. This is our camp in the winter. This is our camp when we left it. This is our camp when we left it. It was a brutal, brutal battle.
And I want to say that that was a brutal battle and a lot of us took a lot of hits. A lot of people were arrested. 840 people were arrested. A lot of us were injured. A lot of legal cases. And you know, police follow us and stay with your water protectors to make sure that they get justice. Stay with your water protectors and stay with this on our movement against these pipelines.
One of the things that was left there was this. This is the only thing that was left there out at Standing Rock. And this is at Ladona’s land, and this is Charles Rencountre’s art. And this is a peace called – it’s facing the Missouri, as you can see. And it’s a piece of art. It was an effigy pipe. I don’t know if anybody knows what an effigy pipe is. It’s like old school. So, this little dude was sitting on a pipe that you would smoke with your tobacco, right? You following me now?
So, he would be looking at the bowl, right? And the pipe had a name because the pipe was so powerful. And the pipe was called, “Not Afraid to Look at White Man.” Is that cool or badass or what, huh? [Laughter] So, this guy, Charles Rencountre decided he should make a statue called, “Not Afraid to Look.” And that statue, one version of it is at the Institute for American Indian Art. It’s the original. It’s at the American – Institute for American Indian Art’s Museum in Santa Fe, New Mexico. And the second, the only other piece is here. And it’s still the only thing remaining in the camp at Standing Rock. It’s Not Afraid to Look.
So, I’m kind of proud of that. Kind of proud of that moment. So, I’m going to talk about the economy we’re going to build. And what I want to say is something that you all know because you’re all super smart. Which is, you know, there’s a few things. Like the guy to the east is a complete – completely dangerous idiot, right? This is my belief. My belief is that they took the political system, but they did not take the economic system. And so, what we’re going to do is we’re going to take – we’re going to retake control of the economic system through re-localizing it and through transforming it. So, let’s talk about how we’re going to do that, okay?
So, we’re going to grow our local food, but we’re also going to grow food that is specifically great for climate change, right? So, I tell you this because this variety of corn I grow here is called, “Bear Island Flint.” It’s a variety that came out of Bear Island, an island in the middle of the Leech Lake Reservation in Minnesota. It’s a hominy corn, pozole. Does this mean something to y’all? See, you guys are all farmers. It’s like so easy to talk to you, right? Okay, and this is what I grow. I’m a farmer too.
But so, we grow this variety and it’s about 90 days or 80 days. It’s a good – but it’s drought resistant. It’s frost resistant, and it’s – when the big winds came through, it’s standability is very good. It blew over Monsanto’s varieties, but my variety stood. So, my suggestion is – and then it’s got twice the protein and half the calories, right? So, grow for climate change.
The other thing about it is that this kind of corn – and you know, I got some other things we could talk about, but I know you were talking about like squash. Like you want low carbon foods too. Like don’t grow stuff that you got to do all kind of like crazy stuff to to keep. Keep some of your stuff simple, right? So, that hominy corn, it keeps good. You just keep it closed up. It like our wild rice. Keep for, you know, years. Just keep it good so it keeps dry. It’s a low carbon food.
So, think as we change and reduce the carbon impact and the footprint of each of our communities, you know, where we’re going to go. And these are all only grown with love and locally. You know, and I have to always say when I talk about this is that when I was a young woman at Harvard, my father had about an 8th grade education. You know, real smart, smart native man – really, a smart native man. And he was known as Sun Bear. Some of you may have known him. He’s known as Sun Bear. Vincent LaDuke was his legal name at White Earth.
You know, he came to see me one day and he said, “Winona, you’re a really smart young woman, but I don’t want to hear your philosophy if you can’t grow corn.” [Laughter] And so, that’s when I became a corn grower, you know. But anyone who grows knows that plants teach you. Plants teach you.
And first I thought I kind of failed when I grew mine out because it was so short. And then I met this – my good friend here, Frank [Kutka] and, you know, that’s how small his corn grew, right? But all it had to do was put on the ear, right? It doesn’t have to be all fancy and it doesn’t have to be all flamboyant. If you’re in the middle of North Dakota, that’s about what you want your corn to look like if it’s going to hang out, right? So, think about these things when we’re growing, growing that cool way.
A lot of you are already talking about this. You’re the Slow Money people. We’re going to divest from dumb stuff and we’re going to move to just cool stuff, right? That’s like the simple thing. You know, I’ve been doing some work on the divestment campaigns, particularly we just did have BMP announced that they are not going to invest in Enbridge.
So, we’re on our next round of pipeline battles on this new pipeline that we’re facing. A 915,000 barrel a day tar sands pipeline. I’m going to talk about that in a minute. We’re going to divest and we’re going to divest for other reasons like this. And I like to show this slide because a lot of you are – it’s money people. I’m an economist by training, but you know, I was looking at this chart and I was like, “Man, those guys are dumb.”
You know, so if you look at this, in 2011, these guys – they’re pretty smart guys, right? Exxon, Chevron, and Conoco Phillips, they had $80.4 billion in net income in 2011. And here in 2016, these guys was down to $3.7 billion in net income. The top three U.S. oil companies, you know. I feel like that they missed a memo. Do you feel like that they missed like a memo or something? You understand what I’m saying?
I’m like – and if I was the CEO of Exxon and I went from 40.1 billion in net income down to 2.7 billion in net income in 5 years, you know, I don’t think I have my job anymore. No. No. But I would have got hired by the smartest guy in the world, you know, because I would be Rex Tillerson. [Laughter] And now I would be the new Secretary of State, right? So, what I’m saying is, this is like these guys act like they’ve got this all. But just look at this, you know, from outside it don’t look like they’ve got this. [Laughter] You following me on my thinking on this?
Talking about the emperor’s clothes and stuff like that because like they don’t really have a good plan. And, you know, we can see that. It’s so funny to watch Mr. Trump with his fabulous ideas. Like, “Now I’m going to do this. Now I’m going to do this. Now I’m going to do this.” And like the best example is some of these pipeline examples because between him and Trudeau, they were like all happy. They approved all these tar sands pipelines, right?
Well, have you watched this at all? So, like last week, Energy East, the 1100-mile pipeline in Canada, the largest pipeline in Canada, Energy East, going to New Brunswick, it got canceled. It got canceled because there’s not enough oil in the tar sands and because the economics are not good, and they’re having a few problems with deregulation. The Transmountain Pipeline, Kinder Morgan Pipeline has, I think, like 11 lawsuits. The Province of British Columbia is suing them, not likely. Not likely that they’re going to be going too far.
A lot of people said since TransCanada canned that Energy East – because that’s the same corporation as Keystone, right? Remember how that guy out east with the orange hair who screams was like, “I’m going to make Keystone.” Remember that? Y’all remember that? We’re going to have Keystone. We’re going to make up things that are going to happen, you know? And then you look at that and they ain’t going to make Keystone. Do you know why they’re not going to have the Keystone Pipeline? Because they don’t have any shippers.
To have a pipeline you have to have shippers. Then they got that problem in Nebraska, besides. But what I’m saying is, is that they have spent billions of dollars on stupid ideas, you know? And so, you know, I’m someone – I’m like a big fan of infrastructure. I’m not actually opposed to pipes. I like water and sewer. How are you feeling? Are you thinking water and sewer is good? You know, I’m like – so, I’m like, for instance, in northern Minnesota we have 300 miles of pipes sitting in piles for a pipeline that is never going to be built.
And you know what I say to the Enbridge Corporation? I say, “Send those pipes to Flint.” [Cheers] You know what I mean? It’s time to invest in infrastructure that makes sense for people and for the planet. Not for some oil companies. And so, I’m saying like this is our moment. But in the meantime, the last pipeline battle, the last pipeline battle, there’s only one pipeline left out of those four. And that was a pipeline called Line 3 that they are trying to bring to Minnesota right now. Enbridge Corporation, same route, the same bad plan, barrelling towards us, permitted in Canada. Of course, permitted in Wisconsin, right? Barrelling towards us.
But you know what? There are water protectors camped. There are water protectors camped. Nobody in Minnesota wants that pipeline. We didn’t want it the last time. We did not want it the last time. And we do not intend to let them into our territory. And so, and what I want to say is that three weeks ago the State of Minnesota, Department of Commerce issued a note, issued a recommendation, an initial recommendation that the permit not be granted for that pipeline. [Applause] And we don’t know if that’s going to hold because, you know, they’re pretty slick – those oil company guys.
So, the last thing I want to say is that if you did not get a chance to get arrested at Standing Rock, please come to Minnesota in the spring. Okay? [Cheers and applause]
I guarantee – I guarantee this is the last big pipeline battle. This is the last big pipeline battle because it is the last tar sands pipeline they are going to be able to try to build and they are not going to build it. So, please stand with us.
So, while we fight them off with their stupid ideas, we’re going to build the next economy. Now, this is what we renewables looks like. And it turns out Indian reservations are the windiest place in the world. No idea how that worked out, but we’re really windy. We would just like to hook up to all that old dirty coal. We would like to not have Excel own all of it. We’d like to own some of the wind on the wires.
And this is a map by my good friend, Bob Goff who just passed away. And I just want to put it up there in his honor. But he’s a board member of Honor the Earth and a great man. And this is what the work that we’re all doing is to put renewables in a lot of tribal communities. This is the first offshore wind project in the United States. I don’t know if any of you have been watching this, right? Deep water wind. We’re going to need to do it at different scales. We’re going to need to do large scale and we’re going to need to do community. We’re going to need to own as much of it as we can. But we’re going to need to move it on out. That’s what we’re going to need to do. We’re going to need to be courageous with wind. We’re going to need to be courageous with solar.
And this the future of what it looks like. That’s the memo that those guys missed. The divestment in fossil fuel, the investment – the future in renewables. This is – you know, people say you can’t meet present energy demand by renewables. And I always say, “Why would you want to try?” I mean if 57% of your power is wasted between point of origin and point of consumption – right? Inefficient systems, stupid, stupid things, you know? Powerplants that are like – in northern Minnesota, they’re like 80-year-old powerplant. I’m like, “Come on.” You know what I’m saying? Like why would you want to reboot a system that inefficient? You would want to be the people that move on. That would be us.
And how I know this is all going to happen is because of that.
Stephanie: I’m here with Michael Nagler and he is going to fill us in on the Nonviolence Report, all the nonviolence in the news that is now reported or underreported and that you would like to more about. Michael, tell us what’s going on.
Michael: Thank you Stephanie. Yes, I’ll be happy to do that. One thing is that TESA, the Tesa collective, which is the people who are helping us bring out our board game have revised their, quote, “Guide to the collective movement.” It’s on their website. And all of their games and resources are on sale now because of the pandemic, but this is an interesting aspect of the nonviolence movement, is collectives. And they’re going to tell you how to do it.
There’s also a new article out called, “Conflict Resolution and Nonviolence Bibliography.” That’s by Patrick O’Donnell. And there’s so much going on. But I want to mention that the U.N. is designing a roadmap to the future we want. That’s part of their global governance forum. And I think anybody can register to attend. And last but not least, the Illuminate Film Festival will open on September 8th with our film, “The Third Harmony.” And then that will be followed by the Global Peace Film Festival on September 21st. And sometime in October, the United Nations Association Film Festival. So, there’s some of the resources – and really, just only a sampling of everything that you can check in on.
And now for some of the news. Closest to home of today’s accounts, I guess, is that in Milwaukee, the team – I’m sorry folks, I don’t even know what sport we’re exactly talking about. But the Milwaukee Bucks had a playoff game today and they are boycotting it as a protest against the police shooting of Jacob Blake. And other teams are considering joining them. And this constitutes a real escalation, probably started by Colin Kaepernick of bringing sports out of the pretend neutrality.
Sports are really – I coined this mantrum or metta motto recently, “All play is rehearsal.” The extreme competitiveness of sports, and they do not have to be played that way, is a reflection of what we think should be going on in business and other aspects of our society. So, just as the universities are not trying to drop the pretense that they have nothing to do with politicized external events, it seems to be happening in sports too.
And you know, there are pluses and minuses to this kind of development. But we should talk about that later. I wanted to say something about one of the most dramatic insurrectionary movements that’s going on in the world today, and that is in Belarus, this country on the western border of the Soviet Union, Russia. And they have been in insurrection against Lukashenko who has been in power for 26 years. And this was triggered, as things are frequently triggered, by an election which is widely considered to be rigged.
According to one poll, Lukashenko’s popularity was running at 3%. That’s the lowest I’ve ever heard of. And yet, he claimed to have swept the election. And so, people are in protest. The police repression has been quite serious. There’s a very informative blog that our friend Maciej has brought out. It’s in the ICNC, International Center for Nonviolent Conflict website. And he knows that part of the world very well, Maciej Bartkowski. And an interesting development here is that when two of the opposition candidates were respectively arrested and basically driven out of the country, their wives stepped up.
And now there’s a female triumvirate which is galvanizing thousands of Belarusians across the whole country. They have social media postings about their rallies are going viral. And there’s a tremendous enthusiasm that has not been seen in the country since it’s independence in 1991. So, I’m quoting now from another article. People’s response to an ugly and boring dictatorship is a beautiful humorous and carnival-like campaign.
Now, I want to comment on that. As we know, humor and beauty and fun can be extremely important forces within movement of people who are disenfranchised and in a disadvantageous position in terms of power. So, that’s a positive. And so, we have now two positives – the entry of women and the tone. As we know from Daniel Hunter, tone is important. So, the tone is very good.
Another good positive sign is that there are signs of defection from the police and security forces. This is Gene Sharp’s recognition that the pillars of support have to be withdrawn from an authoritarian ruler in order to overthrow him in most cases. But what I find not so positive is the movement is relying on mockery of Lukashenko. And in nonviolence, you never want to degrade a fellow human being. You never want to succumb to the temptation to use mockery or disrespect to diminish the power that the opponent has over you because that stuff backfires.
And just as we say, “A threat to justice anywhere hinders justice everywhere.” It’s the same with dignity. Human dignity everywhere is a unified field. When you degrade another person, you are degrading that whole field including yourself. So, but that’s the one negative that I see in this extremely interesting latest case of a nonviolent insurrection, the kind of thing that Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stefan studied in such detail.
And then Maciej goes on to list three things that the movement should do – this was a while back that he wrote this blog. And two of them are, quote, “Maintaining high levels of nonviolent discipline. Even if repression increases – which it has. And quote, “Developing resistance strategies for what comes after the expected rigged elections.”
I thought that was an interesting note for us to pay attention to because not just the nonviolence world, but almost the entire socially conscious world right now is quite concerned what will happen in this country in November.
So, I would like to move onto other things. There is a federal prosecutor named Kelly Zusman who has been listening to the demands of many demonstrators, demands to defund or abolish the police, which I always said is unrealistic. We’ve put them there to do a job. If we throw them out, who does the job? So, one response has been to increase trainings and do a lot more with restorative justice. Another very successful has been to send out a social worker for calls that do not involve violence. That is a large proportion of the calls that police get, are for various social problems, not for crimes. So, they’re the right people for that job.
And her approach, Zusman’s approach was to create a scholarship to encourage students of color to pursue criminal justice. And this is going on. And to pursue it actually as a major at Portland Community College. That will also be helpful.
Now there’s a group of kids at Enterprise High School in Enterprise, Utah. You may not have been very familiar with that town. It’s got a population that’s a little less than 2000. But last week they got a bunch of messages on Facebook calling for their parents to send the kids to school in defiance of the statewide mask mandate to teach those socialist tyrants in Salt Lake City and meaning of liberty.
This is really quite a disturbing phenomenon, that people are looking at perfectly reasonable health care motives as a kind of deprivation of their, quote, “Sacred liberty.” So, the kids instead responded by networking with each other to make sure that they all wore masks to school. And that happened just recently.
They did not want to have another school shutdown like they had to have before. And now, a senior by the name of Dali Cobb who had to sacrifice part of her season in track and field last year because as part of the cheering squad she didn’t want to see that happen again. So, before Saturdays’ football game, in front of a lineup of players and cheerleaders wearing masks, incidentally, she called on adults to please not mess up another school year.
There’s a very interesting article available now online in Scientific American. And it is called, “GDP is the wrong tool for measuring what matters.” Quote, “It’s time to replace the gross domestic product with real metrics of wellbeing and sustainability.” And you may remember about a decade back, the King of Bhutan creating an alternative for the gross national product, he said his GNP, his measure would be Gross National Happiness – GNH.
So, this is actually a quite important trend where economics is not kind of – I’m going to use the word mindlessly focused on numbers and money and much more interested in what really matters to human beings. Do they have meaning in their life? Are they happy? And there are ways that that can be measured in addition to, of course, anecdotal ways of just asking folks, “Hey, how you doing?”
Now, one of the great sources of news, nonviolence news that I rely on and I always like to recommend is Nonviolence News. And so, I want to share with you just a couple of samples from recent postings of Rivera Sun’s Nonviolence News website. One headline is, “Struggles for justice anywhere are connected to struggles for justice everywhere.” And I’m sure you get that reference because I just quoted that line of Martin Luther King.
And she shares many examples of how movement participants are borrowing tactics and ideas from one another. For example, in Portland, citizens who were bracing for an alt-right rally used a tactic that they copied from a little town, Wunseidel in Germany. It now has a name. It’s called, “An involuntary walk-a-thon,” where the more people show up, the more you contribute to something else.
So, this group in Portland raised $30,000 from immigrant rights groups by getting people to pledge to donate for every alt-right protester who appeared. I’ve always liked that kind of way of turning the tables on people. In Wunseidel it was used against a neo-fascist group. Let me give you a couple more examples and then make a comment.
So, as we are all aware, the pro-democracy movement is going on in Hong Kong and they acknowledge the Baltic protest of 1989 as an inspiration. And they created a 28-mile human chain. If you remember, there was a Baltic nation states at that time were suing for freedom from the Soviet Union and they created an enormous chain. I think I’m starting to remember. There was about million people who were involved. It went clean across the territory.
And finally, closer to home, here in the Bay Area of California, three communities are starting to follow Berkeley’s lead on banning natural gas infrastructure in new construction. All of this is very important to my way of thinking because I’ve been saying for quite a while that one of the things that the nonviolence movement as a whole needs to learn how to do is how to learn from past experiences.
And that has expanded tremendously within about the last 20 years. As I’ve sometimes mentioned, there’s even a group or an organization called, “CANVAS.” The Committee on Nonviolent Actions and Strategies.” That’s approximately what that stands for – to take the successful uprising in Serbia, that Otpor! Uprising of 2000 and literally go around the world helping people who have similar uprisings. I wouldn’t be too surprised if they’re in Belarus right now.
Now here’s a few things that were on Nonviolence News last week. So, in New Zealand as you know, there was a Christchurch New Zealand massacre at a mosque in which 51 people were killed and numerous others injured. And a number of things have come out of that. One of them is a weapon’s buyback. And 10,000 weapons have been turned in after that massacre. That is a really encouraging sign.
Then in Brazil, once again, it’s women – indigenous women who have occupied a building to protest the far-right policies of the Bolsonaro government. But the Piece de Resistance, Rivera says – and I agree – is something going on in Ireland. In Belfast, Ireland, shipyard workers for two weeks now – and it must still be going on. That was a week ago – are occupying the site. You may have seen a notice of this. They’re occupying the site that built the Titanic back then. There’s 130 of them. These 130 workers are refusing to leave until the U.K. nationalizes the facilities which are currently being held by an insolvent foreign company that were just planning to close them down.
So, they want them nationalized and here’s the real payoff, converted to producing renewable energy and green infrastructure. So, that would be a terrific example of taking something that’s harmful or neutral and converting it into something that the world desperately needs. And this being done by the workers, being done from the ground up.
Lucas Aerospace was a company in the U.K. that was producing – I’m going back now about 20-25 years. They were producing the majority of the weapons in the U.K. And the workers kind of took charge of the place and decided just plain not to do that anymore. Like the workers in the Mondragon cooperatives in Spain. And that they would produce instead of machine guns, baby carriages. Instead of tanks, tractors and so on and so forth.
So, there is hope coming from every corner of the world if we learn how to recognize it. So, that is a few – a sampling of some of the things that are going on in our world that are of a nonviolent nature.
Another one, a phenomenon that has really been expanding in a very encouraging way is the offering of trainings. And now a Catholic priest, Father Harry Bury who was the founder of Twin Cities Nonviolent. And incidentally, that is a URL, one word. TwinCitiesNonviolent.org. He has teamed up with, of course, our good friend Mel Duncan from Nonviolent Peaceforce to get NP to offer two days of training – that will be Saturday and Sunday, 9/11 – due note – 9/11 to 9/12.
And the cost for this is a whopping $20. But this is a very healthy response which is affecting police departments and large numbers of people all around the country, to our knowledge, or D.C. Peace Teams is playing a major role. A lot of it being coordinated by the Shanti Sena network that is headed up by Meta Peace Teams – M-E-T-A in this case. And people that is prepared to deal with violence in any form will be just much better to go forward with courage in the future.
And as we know from the example in Belarus – and I’m now quoting from one Yury Glushakov who wrote this in Open Democracy and Waging Nonviolence. His article was called, “Belarus will never be the same.” One of the things that creates that magical turn-around where people can no longer be dominated by an authoritarian regime is their ability to get over their fear.
Once that happens, the regime really doesn’t have much of a handle on them. So, things can still be very painful and very awkward. And it still does require a lot of training and strategizing.
So, that is basically my roundup for today. I mentioned the ICNC. I’ve mentioned Nonviolence News. There’s also a site called, “Popular Resistance.” And if you look at something called, “GoodNewsNetwork.org.” That’s again lowercase, all one word – goodnewsnetwork.org – you will find here and there things that are really of nonviolence import and a lot of stuff on the environment.
So, that is pretty much the roundup for this week’s episode and Stephanie, back to you.
Stephanie: Thanks so much, Michael. Can you please tell us more about The Third Harmony and this film festival and what The Third Harmony is and means?
Michael: I thought you’d never ask. No, of course I’d be happy. I’d be happy to do that. So, to start with what The Third Harmony is, it’s a model that we’ve modified from ancient Indian sources, from Shankara, who says that you have to be able to establish – if you really want to live in peace, you have to be able to establish three harmonies. First, harmony with the world – with the planet. Second, harmony with their fellow beings – especially human beings, but not only. And thirdly and most importantly, harmony within.
And in fact, the other two harmonies flow from the ability to establish harmony within. So, that’s the third harmony. But it probably is first in causality and first in importance. So, that Metta Center is now mounting a very ambitious project with three deliverables which are now just about all here.
The first is the film that I mentioned, which is a 43-minute documentary with many of the nonviolent greats are interviewed in it. And we cover – there’s kind of three acts, if you will, to the doc. One is, you know, what is nonviolence. We have Bernard Lafayette saying that nonviolence is love and therefore it’s something that everybody can learn to do.
Secondly, how does it work? And a lot of the new science comes in here. Mirror neurons and other aspects of science. I’m going to say more about that in a second. And then the third part of the film is, “Okay, what can I do?” And there’s where we really delve into that third harmony of inner resourcefulness and resiliency and how we offer these five steps that come from our Roadmap project on how to develop that and make ourselves happier, have more meaning in our life, and make our most effective contribution to a nonviolent world.
So, let me say a little bit more about that new science that I talked about because there’s a complementarity between the film, The Third Harmony, Nonviolence in Human Nature, and the book which is entitled, similarly, The Third Harmony, Nonviolence and the New Story of Human Nature. Because it goes back to something that we discovered a long time ago, that people’s resistance to the idea of nonviolence was rooted in the fact that their worldview or their paradigm doesn’t really make it possible. You cannot understand from the worldview of a materialistic separate random universe how nonviolence would work.
So, at Metta, we began to feel that, well, you know, we need to change the paradigm. And then we discovered that the best way to change the paradigm is through acts and theory of nonviolence. So, these two things really kind of go together. And I imagine some genius will come along and figure out one word that will incorporate both – encompass both. But right now, the film is about nonviolence with an emphasis on the New Story.
The book is about the New Story with an emphasis on nonviolence. And it’s available at Berrett-Koehler. And of course, from us at Metta. And of course, if you must, from Amazon. But if you have a local bookstore still, do support it by going and asking them for The Third Harmony. And the third deliverable is a wonderful boardgame called, “Cosmic Peaceforce: Mission Harmony Three.” And Stephanie, you had a lot more to do with that boardgame than I did. So, I’m going to ask you to say a word about it.
Stephanie: Absolutely. It’s a cooperative boardgame that is created as a kind of a mini-training for nonviolence and the new story through experiential learning. And hopefully, we’ll be able to dedicate a whole show to the boardgame soon.
Michael: Okay. So, we are right now working on how to package these three wonderful tools to make them available. And as mentioned, the film will be screening – and of course, all of these film festivals are now virtual, so you do not have to go to Sedona, Arizona to see this film. But it is the opening film in the season for the Illuminate Festival starting on September 8th. Tickets for just this film are $15. Or you can buy series tickets for closer to $100. Then originally coming out of Orlando, Florida is the Global Peace Film Festival. That will happen on International Peace Day, September 21st.
And third in this particular lineup, but the way things are developing, I have a feeling there will be a lot more – but third in this particular lineup is the United Nations Association. This is their 33rd film festival. And that will be coming out of Stanford sometime in October. There will also be other screenings and events but start with Illuminate.
Stephanie: Nonviolence Radio is community supported radio program. We explore nonviolence and we broadcast from our mother station KWMR in Point Reyes station. And we’re syndicated via Audioport and we’re Pacifica’s network. And you can find archives of our show at the Metta Center website and subscribe via iTunes. And if you want to learn more about nonviolence, visit us at the MettaCenter.org. Until the next time everybody, take care of one another.
Transcription by Matthew Watrous.