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Saturday, June 28, 2008

Vote for G-A-Y’s, Jeremy Hooper

by @ 2:21 pm. Filed under Joe's Rants, Nonviolence

 Jeremy over at Good As You has been nominated for “This Brave Nationa Young Activist Award”.  I would request that you go over and give him a plug.  Whether you agree or disagree with the cause, you have to admit that Jeremy is a great activist who really tries to take the high road.   I appreciate the style, respect and sense of nonviolence that he displays in his work.  I hope you will go over and vote for him. (Click the picture to vote)

Sadly, not everyone has such warm feelings for Jeremy.

One anti-gay blogger writes:

And just because Hooper has a really BIG ego, he’s begging his readers to go and vote for him at this site that has nominated him for their award. I went over and voted for someone else, just because I could. And I’m asking you to do the same, it doesn’t matter who it is, just don’t vote for Jeremy.

I was shocked when I read the above paragraph because it seems to have such intentions to be hurtful.  The writer is asking that you vote for others just so Jeremy will lose.  I was sad to see anyone asking for ill will to anyone.  I could see asking readers to vote for another candidate but to ask people to vote against someone really goes against my values.  I really wish the world wasn’t like this, but sadly it is.  There are people in the world I don’t agree with but I always wish the best for them.  I would ask others to do the same.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Live Simply, So Others Can Simply Live

by @ 10:22 pm. Filed under Joe's Rants, Nonviolence, Nonviolent Communication, Restorative Justice, Site News

A while back I told you about my desire to live a more simple life.  I really want to change the set up of my life to be more in tune with what I value in the world.  A large part of that was selling my house and getting a smaller place.  I have in fact managed to do just that.   My partner and I have sold our house in Rhode Island and we are moving to another state where we will have a small 2 bedroom apartment.  Being only a half mile from my partner’s new job, we will be able to ditch one of our cars.  We can use either public transportation, car pool or get a bike.  Any of these choices will help to reduce our carbon footprint on the earth, but also allow us to save money on car upkeep, insurance, gas and energy.  We are both excited about this and even more enthusiastic about how doing this together has been rewarding to our relationship.

Downsizing from a 1900 square foot house on 2 acres of land is liberating.   We will be making a nice donation to the Salvation Army, and giving away some other stuff to help out friends in need.  I am learning that stuff is just that, just stuff. Our new apartment is around 1000 square feet.  We won’t have room to continuing lugging around all this stuff.  It is time to let it go.  Having less stuff means for me, that I can appreciate the things I do have.   It means enjoying the solace of knowing that I haven’t got a bunch of stuff taking up space that I don’t need.

It will also be much cheaper to heat and will require less cleaning, this leaving more free time for us to do other things.  I am relieved that I can spend my time on things that make me feel alive like photography, music, writing, and friends.  I have always loved the quote from Howard Thurman when a student asked him what career he could choose that the world needs.  Thurman replied, “Don’t ask yourself what it is the world needs.   Ask yourself what makes you come alive and do that.  What the world needs is more people to come alive.” I am looking forward to doing just that.

Since we are mainly moving because my partner has taken a teaching position at a University, I won’t have a job when we get there.   I have more than a few friends in Rhode Island who respect my work here and who have offered to make some calls to help me get a job in my current field, but I am actually content with not having a job right away.  As I grow closer to 40 years old, I have really been taking inventory of my life.   It goes back to the quote above by Thurman.  Am I really doing with my life that which will make me come alive?  I don’t know that I am (I also don’t know that I am not.)  What is beautiful is that this current situation has put me in a place where I don’t really have to jump into any decisions about it.  I can take some time off to think about it.

I really want to teach peace to others who need it.  I want to do art festivals and sell my work.   I want to take Yoga and learn Thai Chi.  I want to spend more time doing mediation.  I would value knowing that I am working for the love of the things I do, as opposed to just doing them because they pay for the stuff I can get.  I would rather have the smaller house and more time to live.  It means enjoying the stuff I have in my life rather than having a life to get more stuff.

I recently presented my first workshop in Nonviolent Communication for a behavioral health treatment organization.   I had the participants fill out evaluations about the workshop to give me some feedback on what came alive for them while attending.  The answers gave me great inspiration.  I was happy to see that what I had done had really met some needs for others.  I was even more warmed to see the workshop left others feeling happy.  I followed this with a guest appearance on a cable access program where I had a chance to talk about mental health advocacy,  the importance of voting and then explained the process of Nonviolent Communication as it was developed by Marshall Rosenberg, PhD.  I haven’t seen the tape of the show, but I know that it is airing on Rhode Island cable access for all of July.

This wonderful experience has been followed by the news that I may be going to the International Intensive Training in NVC in December with Marshall Rosenberg.  I am very excited as this meets my need to immerse myself in this process, so I can really master it.   NVC is way of speaking that connects people to what is alive in them and others.   It is also a conscientiousness that helps us live a life that contributes to peace, not violence.  I am energized by the idea and the possibilities of that.

To add cherries on top of the sundae of other exciting things going on around me, I got a phone call today inviting me to serve on an advisory panel for a restorative justice mediation program representing the victim perspective of crime.   This is a wonderful way to take my experience of surviving a violent crime and turning that pain into the beauty of change, of living Gandhi’s suggestion that we should be the change we wish to see in the world.

That brings me to my final thought today.  I realize I have not been writing as much here on the blog.  I also haven’t been covering all the exciting events happening in the news for GLBT folks.   I have shyed away from giving anti-gay advocates that otherwise would be unknown, anymore of a platform than they have alreay tried to create for themselves.   I don’t want to contribute to their popularity.  It is a fine line to draw between drawing attention to their misinformation and giving them attention that feeds their drive to spread more misinformation.  I think some thrive on the attention we give them.    I will remain uneasy about how to proceed with that, but want to make sure the things I do contribute to the well being of others, not make it worse.

I will be posting updates on the move and on my new adventure.   I will also soon have more time to look at the other stuff I have not been posting about and deciding if I should post on it some more.   Stay tuned….

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Cool Quote on Nonviolence and Hate

by @ 2:34 pm. Filed under Joe's Rants, Nonviolence

A good friend of mine sent me this today.  She thought that I would find it inspiring and I did!

“Often times I have hated in self-defense; if I were stronger I would not have used such a weapon.”   Kahlil Gibran

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Proving God is Cruel

by @ 10:21 pm. Filed under Atheism

Why will no Christians or religious folks answer this question.  I have been asking for years, but never get a straight answer.

“If god is all knowing, and knew before creating you that you would burn in hell and suffer…

why did he create you?”

Friday, June 20, 2008

Antigay Claims Go OverBoard and Over the TOP!

by @ 1:22 pm. Filed under hate speech

Sometimes, just the absurdity and outlandishness of the claims of anti-gay folks are what makes them so interesting.  I am not sure the point of this one, but it is outlandish enough that it doesn’t really matter.   As I have said dozens of times on this site.   Sooner or later the anti-gay folks will be defeated by the fact that the neighbors, friends, co-workers and family we actually “are” don’t look like the monsters they make us out to “be.”

UPDATE:  I suppose I should have pointed out that a few things about this story.   The post I link to claims that an HRC spokesperson named Dr. Pat Pride says “blah, blah”.  This is no Pat Pride.    The story is false and made up solely by the Christian author to try and connect gays and lesbians to incest.  Hence the reason, I call the post outlandish.   The Christian writer than links to a site for “Sarcasm.”  Personally, I don’t see the point of it other than to create more fear of gays. 

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Article on Nonviolence I Hope You will Read

by @ 11:56 am. Filed under Nonviolence

This is an excert written by Stephen Law, a philosopher and proponent of Nonviolence.

Terror in Palestine: A Non-Violent Alternative?

Stephen Law

In this volume, the philosophers Ted Honderich and Tomis Kapitan argue that Palestinians have a moral right to use terrorism. Honderich’s and Kapitan’s arguments differ. For example, Honderich’s is rooted in his Principle of Humanity, while Kapitan develops a justification within something like the framework of ‘just war theory’. Nevertheless, both arguments conclude that Palestinian terrorism has been justified in at least some instances. And both rest on a key premise: that the Palestinians have had available to them no viable alternative to the use of terrorism. Honderich writes:

that the Palestinians’ only means to a viable state has been and may still be terrorism is something about which I myself have no doubt. Evidently it is a factual proposition in need of support. There is enough in the history of Palestine and Israel to lead me to think that the disinterested people who say the Palestinians had and have an alternative to terrorism are less moved by history and fact than by abhorrence for terrorism. The feeling cannot settle the question (Honderich 2008, xx).

Kapitan argues that non-violent methods are unlikely to end the existential threat he believes the Palestinian community faces. He says,

[t]he Palestinians have repeatedly used techniques of non-violence in combating the Israeli occupation… and have sought and received the help of like-minded Israelis, but to no avail. (Kapitan 2008, xx)

Here I raise a question mark over this denial that there is an effective, non-violent alternative to terror open to the Palestinian people.

What is non-violent resistance?

Most non-violent resistance falls under one of three broad headings:

Acts of protest and persuasion. These include vigils, public meetings, marches and demonstrations. Protesters may wear badges, put up posters, place flowers in guns.

Non-cooperation. Citizens may refuse to cooperate socially, politically and economically. They may boycott sporting events, refuse to pay taxes or carry identity cards. They may refuse to work, or, if they are in the armed forces, to fight.

No-violent intervention. This includes actions designed to frustrate the activities and institutions deemed to be unjust. They include sit-ins, occupations and blockades.

These are just a few illustrations. There is a huge range of non-violent techniques protestors can apply. For those interested, Gene Sharp, an academic and leading advocate of non-violence, has listed one hundred and ninety-eight non-violent techniques. (The list is available at http://www.peacemagazine.org/198.htm.)

Continue Reading this Article

Comments for DL Foster and Gay Christian Watch

by @ 11:21 am. Filed under Atheism, Ex-gays, Nonviolence

The following is a comment left for DL Foster on his website in response to his latest post which calls Christians to take up arms and fight “the homosexuals.”  It is a frightening article and the language should concern all of us. 

DL writes in his post:

“Make no mistake the American political homosexual movement is involved with this having exported their hatred of critics of their sinful abomination to countries where governments are seduced by their money. Are you ready to have your church monitored by undercover homosexual activists? Are you prepared to have homosexuals target your business to test your acceptance of their sin? What will you do when they file an expensive lawsuit against you?  In case you havent heard, the war is on.

…This is not a fight to be won with carnal weapons. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.  Get yours out and get it ready.”

My reply is below:

Why the metaphors of war?  Wars are commonly associated with violence.  When you ask the everyday person to tell you what war brings to mind the pictured returned will not be spiritual.

I feel terrible concern for the safety of gays and lesbians when I read articles like the one I have read here today.  The intention is clearly to rally the troops, but sadly the outcome of this type of language is anything but positive.  The underlying message read is that war (violence) is justified as long as it is in god’s name.   That may not be the message you wanted to put out, but it is a part of your message.

The use of words like “weapons” and “warfare” added to statements that put fear into people like the one above stating gays and lesbians are going to do things to christians like the Nazi’s did to the Jews are statements that invoke fear into the hearts of men.   Fear is the driving force behind violence.   Man resorts to violence when he fears for his safety, the safety of his kind or the safety of his very soul.    To put such fear into others is to scare them into violence against GLBT folks.

I would request that you begin to take steps to move away from this metaphor of warfare and start using language that is less a call to arms and more a call to look for solutions where religious folks and gays and lesbians can both have their civil liberties respected and honored.   I would appreciate that you use language the engages people in solutions to the problems we face not entice them into battles to win against other people.  I would ask you move into directions where we seek to have power WITH people not over them.  I would request you begin to frame your arguments into winning OVER your opponets not winning AGAINST your opponets.  I would request that you present solutions where both sides views and needs can be met without rally cries that could end in violence.

In peace,
Joe Brummer

UPDATES: Some of the replies to this scare me.  One women wrote that Hitler was a homosexual (not factually true), another wrote about the rapture and flames.   Another commenter writes:

“Joe must begin to understand that it is the use of GOD’s weapons that enable us to win others to Christ. His weapons combined with our love for the individual is the start.

Whew! It’s sending shivers through my body watching the Bible’s prophetic revelations come true before our very eyes!”

So lets revist this comment with some editing for the sake of learning.

the commenter wrote:

“Joe must begin to understand that it is the use of GOD’s weapons that enable us to win others to Christ “Allah”. His weapons combined with our love for the individual is the start.

Whew! It’s sending shivers through my body watching the Bible’s Koran’s prophetic revelations come true before our very eyes!

If that doesn’t scare you, it should.  We must be careful when allowing anyone to be so commited to “god” or religion that they are willing to start wars.  I don’t care if it is Christ, Allah or John Frum, if you cannot solidly prove the existence of your god, then you damn well better not be ruining lives for him.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Americans for Truth (again) Supports and Justifies Violence Against Gays and Lesbians

by @ 10:07 pm. Filed under Americans For Truth, Ex-gays, hate speech

While I long for the day when I don’t have to write about Peter LaBarbera or Americans for Truth, sadly I choose to write about them because of my need for safety for myself and others like me. I realized today, while reading one of Peter’s latest posts how disinterested in the truth Americans for Truth is. Today, Peter is writing about Stephen Bennett a man who claims to have gone from gay to straight and is now married with kids. To start with this is not some huge deal as Peter would have you believe. Gay men and lesbian women have spent lifetimes married to opposite sex partners, that didn’t make it honest or right. Some stayed married forever and others decided they couldn’t do it any longer and came out as gay. Others, like me, have no attraction whatsoever to the opposite sex and just couldn’t have pulled off the married fake thing even though I wanted to, and I tried to. Deborah has finally forgiven me, I think.

Peter’s post talks about only one man who claims to have gone straight and then claims:

“So if we already know that men and women can leave homosexuality behind, why isn’t this phenomenon studied in the academy? What are “queer” activists afraid will be discovered”

I was angry when I read this, but also curious. What is the image Peter really has of us. He speaks of “queer activists” like we are some KGB organization in cold war Russia. He speaks of us as if we are not human beings, but those evil spy characters from a novel. Everyone fears the KGB and would have used force to stop them. That is what you do with the enemy. You stop them at any cost using all means available. That is how we have been conditioned to think by society. It would be hard for Peter to deny that.

His question also ignores some information of which we know for fact Peter LaBarbara has been made aware. Lots of people spent tens of thousands of dollars trying to “leave” homosexuality and the so called “change” he speaks of just never happen. People like Peterson Toscano, Christine Bakke or all the others whose lives where almost destroyed by trying to change their sexuality. Just because one man named Stephen Bennett, who has refused to prove he was ever gay in the first place, claims he is now straight and no longer has same sex attractions is no proof that all gays and lesbians could or should try to change their sexuality at the risk of harm. The evidence against “ex-gay therapies” and their dangers is well documented to be not worth the risk. They are ALL based on religious conviction, not scientific FACTS!

It is Peter’s tone, his choice of presentation about gays and lesbians painting us as the enemy that make his efforts hate speech. It is the enemy images he has and wants others to have of gays that scare me. Today, Good As You pointed me to a video of a girl who violently beat another girl and posted it on YouTube because the girl was a gay rights advocate. The local news reported:

The suspects told police the girl was a gay-rights advocate and that she was trying to impose her views on them. They didn’t like it, and they told police they didn’t see anything wrong with what they did.

The fight was clearly premeditated. In surveillance video, police told 24 Hour News 8 the suspects are seen pulling back their hair and getting ready. It’s also clear they say other people knew about the attack because of the number of people who were congregated around watching the fight.

What Peter LaBarbera has yet to understand is that he did contribute to this climate of violence. Peter has not heard us when we explain to him that when you paint gays and lesbians as the enemy who must be stopped, people will feel justified in using violence to stop us. Peter may not be promoting violence directly, but he is promoting the justification for it. I am not sure what it would take for him to see this, but I for one know that as long as I read things written in the tone Peter writes them, I am going to be afraid that people will use violence and justify it with the arguments Peter gave them. I would challenge Mr. LaBarbera anyday to show me just what it is he is working towards. What is his end game and where are people like me in that picture? I believe the reason he won’t answer it is because the answer proves what he is doing is hurting more people than it is helping.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

30 Million Dollars Could…

by @ 8:27 pm. Filed under Gay News

It seems pro-family advocates are estimating that they will spend 30 Million dollars to prevent same sex marriages and get an amendment to ban them. 30 Million is a huge amount of money that could help so many people, but instead it is being used to stop couples who love each other from getting married and protecting their families.

A Google search reveals that 30 million could have been used for:

3 million mosquito nets to prevent Malaria in Africa;

Cell Phones for Soldiers to stay in touch with families;

Would sponsor 30 million children in Africa for a day!

Would send 1000 kids to college for a year;

Musical instruments for 1 million kids

I could go on but I think you all get the point. We could be doing so much more to better the world, instead we just fight each other rather than support each other. Feel free to add your “what could 30 million do” thoughts below….

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Address Book Mishap

by @ 7:28 pm. Filed under Joe's Rants, Site News

In the process of trying to sync my phone to my Outlook for my T-mobile Dash, I had an oops.   If you were one of the many people in my address book, please send me your contact info again as all has been lost.    I would request the best would be to send me your contact card from Outlook!

Living by the Words of Gandhi

by @ 9:15 am. Filed under Joe's Rants, Nonviolence, Nonviolent Communication

I have accomplished one more step in my quest to live a more simple life.  My partner and I have accepted an offer on our house.   We should be signing the papers tonight and closing in the next 45 days.    My partner and I will now be moving to a new state where we hope to live close enough to our jobs where we can sell at least one of our cars and use public transporatation or walk.   We want a smaller house that uses less energy.  More importantly, we are going to unload lots of “Stuff”.   As I creep closer to forty years of age, I cannot believe the amount of stuff that I have that I don’t need or use.  I have boxes of stuff I have carried from place to place and never even opened.   Time for tall of that to go!   Materials things are nice, but I think it is time to look at the stuff and realize it is only “stuff” and it means nothing.   You can’t take it with you.

As many of you know from this blog, one of my heroes in life is Mahatma Gandhi.   I truly believe he was on to something when he said “be the change you wish to see in the world.”   No statement has ever had more impact on me than that one.    I have taken it to mean that I must be the one to display the qualilies of change I wish for the world.   I want a world where people display patience with each other, so I try to display patience.   I want a world where people listen to each other when they talk, so I try to be a good listener.  I try my best to be the change that I wish to see in the world.   That is not an easy task, but I do think think it is a good mantra to live by.

Another of Gandhi’s famous words that has lately really resonated with me, is “Live Simply, So Others Can Simply Live!”   I really want my life to display what I believe.   My partner and I try to recyle as much as we can.   On any given week we usually have one small bag of trash.   We throw organic stuff into the woods like veggie peelings or rotten fruit.  We prefer it gets returned to the earth rather than a landfill where it will remain for decades.  

We try to avoid buying things we don’t need.  We try to buy local goods that didn’t require lots of fuel to ship from one end of the world to the other.  We have stopped using plastic shopping bags.   We don’t just avoid the bags, we just don’t allow them in our lives.   I get some strange looks when I say “I don’t want a bag if all you have is plastic” from the young ones behind the counter at the store.   If I don’t have one of my reuasble bags,  I just leave it all in my cart and walk it to my trunk and drop it in without that plastic bag that will ultimately end up flying from a branch of a tree.  No one needs plastic bags and I found not one ounce of inconvienience from refusing to use them, yet each year, an estimated 500 billion to 1 trillion plastic bags are consumed worldwide. That comes out to over one million per minute. Billions end up as litter each year.

I also have refused to use those self-check out lanes at the stores.  I have a number of reasons for not using them, but the big one is a sense of community.    I think we need to keep our sense of community by taking the time to talk to our neighbors.   Even if it is the brief conversation with the lady at the check out lane who is ringing up our groceries.  We need to start connecting and caring for one another.  That is hampered when an automated service is ringing up your purchases.

You should also know, each time someone uses to self check-out lane, they have proved that someone’s job is no longer neccessary.   People need jobs, even if they are as simple as ringing up groceries.   I want the stores to know that I want them to hire people, so they have jobs to feed their families or pay for college.  By going to the self-check out, I have the reduced the need for someone to have a job and I don’t want to do that.    I want to help create jobs for people not eliminate them.

I am also going to be changing my career.   I love the people I work with and I love the great work we have accomplished for people living with mental illness, but I really believe as I creep towards 40 years old that I want to make my living out of one of my passions in life.   I always believed when I was younger I would be a musician and live that passion.  While I doubt much that will be my next carreer, I do hope that I can live out some of my passions in life.   One of those is helping people solve conflict without the use of or making a contribution to the violence in the world.   Marshall Rosenberg points out that each time classify each other into labels like “good” or “Bad” and “right” or “wrong” we are contributing to the violence in the world as we put people into the category that spells out what they deserve.   Young kids are taught from the earliest age that the bad guy is the one most likely to get beat up by the hero because that is what they deserve.    It is a structure of violence I have never understood in most of my life.    I hope that in my next career, I can make a difference in changing that.   I recently trained as a mediator and I was trained a number of years ago as a nonviolence instructor.   Next, I think I would like to combine those passions to teach others to live with more compassion.

So, in summary, off I go on another road of self-discovery and personal change.  I am grateful and happy I am sharing this whole thing with my favorite person, my partner Rick.   I am also grateful that I have this chance to reshape my way of life.

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"Be the change you wish to see in the world"
Mahatma Gandhi

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