Thomas P. Healy
Braving bitter cold to gather on the steps of Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis in protest of Bush administration policies is nothing new for Hoosier peacemakers. And
coronation inauguration day Thursday, Jan. 20, was no exception.
While George W. Bush was being sworn in under heavy security in Washington, D.C., 250 people huddled together in Indianapolis for a counter-inaugural to raise their voices in opposition to the war in Iraq. The icy wind that afternoon was an ominous harbinger of what the next four years mean for Americans truly dedicated to liberty, freedom and especially peace.
Keynote speaker Marine Corporal Andrew VanDenBergh, who received an honorable discharge last summer, added to the somber mood of the crowd as he spoke about his time in Iraq.
Citizens will have another opportunity to address the state's Air Pollution Control Board on Dec. 8 about concerns over mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. The Board meets at 6:30 p.m. at the Indiana Department of Transportation's District Office, 3650 South U.S. 41, in Vincennes.
At issue is the Hoosier Environmental Council's petition for a 90 percent reduction in mercury emissions and an expansion of the definition of power plants that fall under regulatory jurisdiction. (See "Mercury regs still up in the air" link at bottom of story.)
During its October meeting, the Board heard from industry representatives who painted a dire picture of excessive costs that would have to be passed along to the consumer. In the meantime, reports have surfaced that illuminate a different scenario for improving public health and the environment.
In the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, a strong voice for peace emerged from people who had lost loved ones in the tragedy. "Our Grief Is Not a Cry for War," was one of the slogans of the organization called September Eleventh Families for Peaceful Tomorrows — known simply as Peaceful Tomorrows.
Peaceful Tomorrows mission is to break the cycles of violence engendered by war and terrorism by developing and advocating nonviolent options and actions in the pursuit of justice. The organization promotes education on alternatives to war; offers individual and institutional support and fellowship to like-minded people and groups; calls attention to threats to civil liberties, human rights and other freedoms as a consequence of war; and encourages a multilateral, collaborative effort to bring those responsible for the 9/11 attacks to justice in accordance with the principles of international law.
Peaceful Tomorrows member Fran Day spent a couple of days talking to groups in Indiana last week. After speaking to members of the Indianapolis Peace & Justice Center, Day reflected on her work as we drove to her next speaking engagement, arranged by the Lafayette Area Peace Coalition.
Indiana peace, social justice, environmental and civil rights groups have not wasted any time in addressing the calamitous election results. Around the state, activists are gathering to assess the damage, re-examine strategy and expand the vision of peace, prosperity and equality.
One of the tools we're using is Hoosier Peacemaker, a 20-page newspaper produced by members of the Indiana Peace & Justice Network that serves as an example of community-based public-interest journalism.
The framework for the paper is provided by four of the state's independent media outlets: Indianapolis Peace & Justice Center's Journal, the Lafayette Area Peace Coalition's Community Times, Fort Wayne Peace Action's e-zine The Agitator and The Bloomington Alternative.
Predictably, two distinct constituencies offered comments to the Air Pollution Control Board ( APCB ) at its Oct. 6 public hearing in Indianapolis regarding a petition by the Hoosier Environmental Council (HEC) to dramatically reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants.
Representatives of soon-to-be-regulated companies (mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants are currently unregulated) called on the APCB to wait until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issues its long-awaited regulations in March 2005, rather than promulgate separate, stricter rules.
talking about nuclear war,
if they push that button, your ass got to go.
What you gonna do without your ass?
...If they push that button
you can kiss your ass good-bye.
Jazz legend Sun Ra wrote "Nuclear War" after the accident at Three Mile Island — upwind from his Philadelphia home — as he contemplated the unthinkable horror of nuclear annihilation.
His fear of planetary disaster was echoed Oct. 9 by one of the world's foremost advocates of nuclear disarmament, Dr. Helen Caldicott. "If the election goes the wrong way, I don't know if we're going to survive," she told a capacity crowd in Indianapolis at the Fourth Annual Earth Charter Community Summit.
Near the end of his long life, author William S. Burroughs wrote in The Western Lands, "The old writer couldn't write any more, he had reached the end of words — the end of what could be said with words." At 81, historian and author Howard Zinn might be considered old, but he hasn't come close to exhausting what can be written about history.
Speaking Sept. 30 in Manchester College's Cordier Auditorium, Zinn mesmerized the large crowd of students, faculty and guests with his generous humor, broad frame of reference and seemingly endless anecdotes about recurrent patterns in U.S. history. He also offered encouraging words about the importance of studying history "to be able to see through the lies the people in authority tell you."
He shared the reason he became a historian: "I wanted to change the world." And as a teacher he didn't want to be neutral. "I wanted my students to know where I stood and I wanted to know where they stood."
A veritable arsenal of chemical and biological weapons disguised as beneficial pesticides, herbicides, cleansers and other household products imperils public health in Indiana and across the country.
Pete Myers, co-author of Our Stolen Future, urged participants at HEC's 2003 "Fatal Harvest: What Is Happening to Our Health?" program to "look at how we can prevent diseases from emerging by narrowing the gap between science and the public's understanding of how to regulate chemicals."
by Thomas P. Healy
If you've got the day off on Monday, Sept. 6, take a moment to thank organized labor. If you have to work on Labor Day but get paid time-and-a-half, be thankful that organized labor lobbied for passage of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, which established the 40-hour workweek.
However, if you not only have to work at one or more jobs on Monday but also do not receive holiday pay or health care benefits, then welcome to George W. Bush's America, where workers don't count for much.
According to "The Status of Working Families in Indiana," a report by the Indiana Institute for Working Families ( ... ), more than 500,000 families in Indiana can barely make ends meet, despite the fact that many hold down one or two jobs.
by Thomas P. Healy
One of my favorite treasures snagged at a public library book sale is a copy of sociologist Paul H. Ray's The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World. It's a million dollars worth of wisdom that cost only a buck.
Ray published the book after 13 years of probing deeply into the lives, values and habits of more than 100,000 Americans who, he wrote, "invented the current interest in personal authenticity in America." Their "authenticity" was reflected, for example, in the growth of popular movements for civil rights and environmental protection, as well as participation in the consciousness movement that has swept the nation.
He estimated that some 50 million Americans align their values with their actions, likening those of us who do to a "country within a country" because we happily co-exist with our materialistic, "what's-in-it-for-me?" neighbors.