Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Who's Keeping the Pledge?

One conservative member of our Eugene City Council proposed that the Council open its regular meetings by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. The council’s’ compromise to cite it four times a year drew a story on Fox News and many mainly hostile emails and phone calls, mostly from out of state. A typical letter was quoted in the local newspaper: “You have made our decision easy for us. We have decided to move our 120-member family reunion away from Eugene, you communist bastards.”

Instead of making the Pledge of Allegiance the conservative's litmus test for patriotism, let's reframe the discussion to who's actually keeping the pledge. Time and time again, while proud to recite "with Liberty and Justice for All," conservatives are working hard to build and maintain hierarchies, such as ones based on wealth, sexual orientation, gender, religion, race, environment, corporate power, and world order. If the City of Eugene would reframe the issue by asking conservatives how they support the equality that they voice, then the focus would turn the other way. Let's set up the conservatives to do the explaining.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The World Cup is Now Underway

The World Cup began this week. Probably most of you made the assumption that the World Cup means men are playing, and maybe wondered why it wasn't in the news. Did you even know there is a Women's World Cup?

In Germany, people have heard of the Women's World Cup, including the 73,680 people at the sellout crowd for Sunday's opening game in Berlin's Olympic Stadium.

It's too bad that in the United States, we miss out on so many fun exciting events because only one group of athletes get the vast majority of the coverage, that group on top of our athletic hierarchies - able bodied men. Charlotte went to the Paralympics in Atlanta, and the attendance at the events was sparse, even though the Paralympics (for athletes with disabilities) were sold out four years before in Barcelona.

Last weekend, we both attended the able-bodied USA National Track and Field Championships here in Eugene and were so glad to be at an athletic event where men and women's events appeared to be equally scheduled, and where both male and female athletes were featured in the commentator's remarks and on the big screen.

The language we use gives us clear indications about who's on top. When we talk about a sporting event with both men and women's tournaments, we assume men are playing so we don't have to mention which tournament we are discussing. For example, when the media discusses the "Final Four, " we assume we are talking about the men's NCAA basketball tournament. If we are talking about women, we have to specifically say the Women's Final Four.

Again, our hierarchies limit our experiences. When one group gets placed above others, all of us miss opportunities.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Our Money for Us

We are thrilled that the U.S. Conference of Mayors voted this week to approve a resolution to redirect military spending to domestic priorities and to bring U.S. troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq. This effort was led by our own Eugene mayor, Kitty Piercy, who was the lead sponsor. Go Kitty!

The resolution calls on Congress to allow billions of dollars to be redirected to U.S. cities, many of which are struggling with severe budget shortfalls and the need to eliminate city programs. Piercy's resolution "calls for speeding up (troop) withdrawals as our cities and our families are in need."

As one of the wealthiest countries in the world, we would have plenty of money to take care of ourselves if we were to stop trying to maintain our own world hierarchy with the United States on the top. Hierarchies require extensive resources to maintain. We cannot afford our huge military and we don't need to be the world police. We are glad to see the mayors take this stand.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Clueless at the Court

"Some corporations are too big to be held accountable," was Senator Patrick Leahy's response when the conservative majority of the Supreme Court handed a victory to Wal-Mart by throwing out the largest gender discrimination case in U.S. history. The justices reversed a lower court decision that allowed as many as 1.5 million female workers to sue the nation's largest private employer.

Not holding the top accountable is one of the most important ways to keep hierarchies viable and strong. Hierarchy conservators are working hard to keep corporations on top of our country, financially and politically high on our hierarchies. The conservative majority - Scalia, Roberts, Kennedy, Thomas, and Alito - has again demonstrated that conservative is synonymous with conserving hierarchies.

On this website, Take Action - Clueless Top, #5, we point out that:

HiCons will treat illustrative examples as isolated instances and conclude that the person giving the information is overreacting.

"Respondents wish to sue for millions of employment decisions at once," Justice Antonin Scalia wrote in the majority opinion. "Without some glue holding together the alleged reasons for those decisions, it will be impossible to say that examination of all the class members' claims will produce a common answer to the crucial discrimination question."

We urge everyone who wants equality and fairness to demonstrate your commitment with your pocketbooks. All of us have a role to play to help end hierarchies. Hierarchies flourish because the people at the top are not held accountable for the effects on lower groups. Please think about what you money is supporting if you shop at Wal-Mart, where women hold 70% of the hourly jobs but only 33% of the management positions.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Look Lower for a Healthy Future

It's easy to be blind to the obvious when we are clueless at the top. We are programmed to value what we view as being on top, and overlook the importance or contributions of those in our lower groups.

"The local food and beverage industry grows despite the recession," our local newspaper reported. Even though this local segment of our economy provides more than half as many jobs as the county's largest manufacturer, an economic develop official was quoted as saying that these local companies are not going to provide the quantity and quality of jobs that makes a real job cluster with staying power.

Staying power? Is he saying that large corporations provide more security, just because they have more resources and are given top-of-the-hierarchy benefits in this country? The article goes on to name large corporations that in one sweep moved manufacturing operations to other counties or countries, while adding that local small industries are more likely to stay here, and many have been here for decades.

An executive from the Northwest Food Processors Association summed it up. "It's kind of a Rodney Dangerfield impression. They never give us respect."

Monday, June 13, 2011

If Cars Were Bikes

If you aren’t one of the millions of people who have watched the Youtube video on blocking bike lanes in New York City, we encourage you to do so:

In the United States, cars are definitely on top of the transportation hierarchy. Most of our funding goes to automobile roads, while alternative transportation, including public transportation, is put on the back burner, is often left in the dust.

Let’s do a role reversal. Let’s assume bikes are on top of the hierarchy in New York City. Then, anyone could park a bike in a car lane and the car would have to figure out how to proceed and not hit the bike. A cyclist could sit in the car lane and have a conversation with someone on the sidewalk. Construction workers could block a car lane with no notice for those approaching. If a cyclist suddenly pushed a barrier in front of a car, similar to a car door in a bike lane, too bad for the car.

Friday, June 3, 2011

A Commitment to Change, Not Compromise

In his May 22 article, Neal Gabler states that the rightward revolution is transforming us into a nation without compassion or tolerance. He says conservatism is defining and drawing the battle lines that tell us that they are easily winning the day.

We agree that if we define our country by the hierarchical perspective of the right wing, yes, they are on top and therefore in charge. However, our vision for the right wing is different from how they see themselves. When we step out of their hierarchy and become fortified by historical trends, their position looks vulnerable.