In Lack’ech (The Source and End is You) – An Essay on Entertainment

Gladiator GsmrdThroughout the ages of time, men have sought the means to enrich and perfect their lives. Thinking only of themselves, they laid waste to the land. They searched for slaves to do the work, animals to entertain them, and money, money, and more money from the inferior. Great palaces were built in place of trees, the natural beauty of earth was smothered. Dressed in the finest of robes, they gathered into a building that stood in Rome. A great show was in store that night, lions and bears, oh my! But first, it was man versus man in the world famous Gladiator games. They charged at each other upon slaving horses, the crowd loudly roaring. Cheering on the death of the warrior now kneeling on his knees, they clapped and merrily screamed as they motioned downwards with their thumb.

The collector of the fares was safe outside collecting the gold while the blood of the fallen warrior formed a lake on the ground. Somehow, having the power to control the life and death of another gave the most enriching experience to the audience. Every day they gathered by the thousands to watch the warriors slice each other to death. They roared and applauded, never stopping, never opening their eyes.

Then one day, it suddenly all came to an end. Rome had fallen, the city now in cinders. It seemed the pride and physical strength of the glorious civilization had blinded them; the soldiers had lost the fight. But the same lust for entertainment would survive, more money and more lakes made.

The Gladiator Games were one of the first sources of full-scale entertainment, but they were certainly not the last. Whenever one injures another for the amusement of others, greed will be their ultimate downfall. Religious as they were, the people were so fearful of not going to heaven. Yet atrocities such as this, brutal wars, and slavery still existed? It seems to me that over time religion became an excuse for those in power to oppress those who were not. This statement applies most generously with circuses. Animals were believed to be the spawn of the devil, so naturally religion provided the perfect excuse to make the suffering of, say elephants (a species nearly as intelligent as us by the most commonly misused definition), acceptable. And acceptable it was. The “religious ways” of the older generation were passed to the new, embedding in their minds that a perfect world existed, nothing needed to change; their ways were okay. But it was all just an illusion, a trick to keep those from finding the truth and speaking up against it. Those who did stand up were ridiculed, beaten, whipped, and sentenced to death under the crime of heresy to infuse a fear that would prevent rebellion. That would prevent the master from obtaining that dang dime!!!

And boy did they succeed. The ways of entertainment still live on today. Television, zoos, aquariums. We just don’t get it. We believe the excuses the greedy make: “oh it’s educational, it’s good for the economy, it’s fun.” Well, tell me this: Would you find it fun if you let your own child suffer just so you could buy a new car with a sweet ride? Would you sell yourself, would you want to be a slave just so someone can profit off you because it’s fun? Just because something is acceptable in society does not mean that it’s ok!!! Slavery was accepted, and now we see that as unethical. And abusing sentient beings for entertainment is not? Stop believing the lies of those trying to make a quick buck!!!

So now in 617 words we have come full circle from the beginnings of selfish entertainment to its manifestation in present society. Selfishly venomous, mankind takes, cheers, takes more, and cheers again, poisoning the planet. Their vicious and vile ways will come back to haunt them, and their greed will be their downfall. They must open their eyes to the world around them. It is already happening – ozone depletion, global warming, the oceans are dying while overfilling the bathtub humans call “the perfect world.” The Mayan civilization predicted the world would end. Perhaps they will be right, not in the context of 2012, but in our own destruction of it. They have a saying, and I suggest you pay attention. It means that we must make every action count towards bringing love and peace back to Earth, because what goes around comes around. Please do not be another me (In Lack’ech).

The End

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A Glimmer of Climate Justice-No Jail Time for Climate Activist

These days, instances of climate justice are hard to come by. The global poor, future generations and other species – those who have contributed least to climate problem – continue to face the worst impacts of global warming thanks to a lack of leadership from the world’s biggest polluters. But at the very least my colleague, Ted Glick, won’t have to go to jail for peacefully protesting this gross injustice.

Earlier this week, Judge Frederick Weisberg of the D.C. Superior Court made the very just decision not to incarcerate Ted for non-violently and (let’s be honest) non-disruptively hanging a “Green Jobs Now” banner in a U.S. Senate office building last September. Instead, Ted got off with an $1,100 fine and 40 days of community service. Not that any punishment is really fitting for what Ted did. As Jeff Biggers recently wrote in theHuffington Post, “Glick doesn’t deserve prison time — he deserves a Medal of Honor for his incredible work to halt climate destabilization and transition to green jobs.” Biggers is right, but short of a medal, getting off without prison time was a good result for Ted.

During the sentencing, Judge Weisberg noted that Biggers’ sentiments were echoed in hundreds of letters he had received about Ted’s plight. Although Weisberg rejected these sentiments as “one dimensional” and claimed they had no influence whatsoever on his sentencing decision, the decision itself tells a slightly different story.

While couched within a legal rather than moral context, it was still founded on the same reasoning that inspired those letters – that nobody deserves to go to jail for peacefully protesting the government’s inaction on climate change.

This convergence between our moral and legal notions of justice was really what Ted’s case was all about. As all effective civil disobedience actions should, Ted’s banner-drop arrest and conviction has served to sharply contrast our deep-seated notions of moral justice against the failure of our legal and political systems to administer anything that resembles those notions of justice. Whenever a huge justice gap like this exists, we need civil disobedience to help us see it clearly and work to close it. Seen in this way, Ted’s actions were not in the least at odds with our legal and political systems; they were directly in their service, intended to help those systems converge again with the moral ideals that they are supposed to serve.

We saw faint glimmer of that convergence in Judge Weisberg’s decision on Tuesday, and as a result a good man won’t have to go to jail for promoting a good cause. But it was a far cry from the great convergence that needs to sweep across our entire political-legal system in order for real climate justice to be achieved.

To get there, we need more public officials like Judge Weisberg and more people like Ted, who was willing to put his freedom on the line in the name of true justice.

Photo creditAnne Havemann