Our League

Posted on 1 October 2021 | No responses

Take a deep breath. Now take a moment to cherish all the kind, strong, and committed people in your life. They along with yourself are the league of ordinary people who can save us. Now go out and empower one another!

In peace and kindness,

Katherine

Leave the Cocoon Behind

Posted on 27 July 2021 | Comments Off on Leave the Cocoon Behind

Our culture tends to worship the past and fear the future. We make statues to people who are gone, but fear the changes the future represents, and so tell stories about surviving a bad future where nothing about ourselves has changed. We need more stories where we represent ourselves as caring and mature people who can grow…and it is safe to do so. Growth is only loss in the way that a butterfly loses its cocoon. Understand that if you only focus on the cocoon, you won’t spread your wings and fly. The future can be better. We can make it so.

Peace and kindness,

Katherine

Baby Steps to Culture Change

Posted on 17 July 2021 | Comments Off on Baby Steps to Culture Change

So many practical things we can do to repair our living world. So many things that don’t get done properly when people don’t connect with each others humanity, or every being’s desire to live and to thrive.

“Funktionlust”, according to behavioral scientists, is the characteristic whereby animals enjoy doing the things which keep them alive. Animals who run, like running. Animals who climb, like climbing. Since animals need to eat, they enjoy eating. We all feel joy and pain according to how well we are able to function within our environment. Some research suggests various plants have a similar experience.

Humans have a real problem when we cut off our ability to recognise others pain or joy in order to serve a felt need for status and dominance. Other animals indulge in hierarchies. A few other animals have wiped out their sources of food, and thereby wiped themselves out. We are so effective that we are taking down a whole planet with us.

Logic is failing to convince us to do the right thing. We have a tremendous capacity for empathy, because it is critical to cooperation. We even enjoy empathising, which is why we enjoy stories. Re-engaging our empathy is a good way to quieten our dominance behaviour and start seeing things from others perspectives: the first step to start doing what it takes to repair things for everyone.

At least so says the professional storyteller. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Peace and kindness,

Katherine

On Human Rights and the Environment

Posted on 22 April 2021 | Comments Off on On Human Rights and the Environment

We have many pressing issues that require international cooperation. Issues to do with the environment, pandemics, refugees, and more need to be addressed collectively by humanity. Having a body such as the United Nations is important for people’s ability to think of ourselves as in partnership for creating a more peaceable world.

The United Nations is a flawed institution. Representatives are appointed by their governments, and not voted upon by their populace. So, this institution seems distant and of little relevance to the lives of most common people. Worse is the structure of the UN Security Council which gives more power to the powerful, rather than sharing tasks of equal concern to all. Nevertheless, the United Nations has kept us talking with one another.

We have some gaping holes in our international efforts to create that peaceable world. I have heard it said (please help me find the quote), that you can learn from a culture by what it doesn’t say about itself, as much as by what it does.

The UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights says nothing about universal economic parity among the peoples within and between countries. So long as there is a significant gap between the haves and the have nots, there will be a similar significant gap in power. No country that has such a gap is truly democratic. And when this gap opens wide between countries, we see some of the worst human rights abuses. We need a UN Universal Declaration of Economic Rights that explicitly addresses wealth inequities and their resolution. Simply making the poor less poor will never be enough.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights also does not address environmental rights. Humanity is but a subset of all living being. Our very existence relies on the health and well-being of the planet as a whole. Our human rights are meaningless in a world dying from misuse. The UN World Charter for Nature (1982) is an excellent document for filling the gap. The vote was 111 for, one against (United States), 18 abstentions. Sadly, it was intended to exert political and moral force, but not legal force on member states. To the best of my research and knowledge the US stated that the declaration was laudable, but did not wholly agree with its terms, and therefore voted against it. What it found disagreeable was not publicly expressed.

In 1994 a declaration of principles on human rights and the environment was drafted at the United Nations Geneva. The document went no further than this stage, and yet what it expresses is well worth our consideration. I am helping to preserve this document by posting it here.

UN Draft Principles On Human Rights And The Environment, E/CN.4/Sub.2/1994/9, Annex I (1994).

On 16 May 1994, an international group of experts on human rights and environmental protection convened at the United Nations in Geneva and drafted the first-ever declaration of principles on human rights and the environment.

The Geneva group assembled at the invitation of the Sierra Club Legal Defense Fund–in cooperation with the Association mondiale pour l’école instrument de paix and the Société suisse pour la protection de l’environnement- -on behalf of Madame Fatma Zohra Ksentini, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment for the United Nations Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities.

As U.N. Special Rapporteur, Mme Ksentini has since 1989 presided over a study of the connections between human rights and the environment. Mme Ksentini’s final report to the Sub-Commission is due in August 1994. The final report will include the Draft Declaration produced at the Geneva Meeting of Experts.

The Draft Declaration is the first international instrument that comprehensively addresses the linkage between human rights and the environment. It demonstrates that accepted environmental and human rights principles embody the right of everyone to a secure, healthy and ecologically sound environment. The Draft Declaration describes the environmental dimension of established human rights, such as the rights to life, health and culture. It also describes the procedural rights, such as the right to participation, necessary for realization of the substantive rights.

The Draft Declaration also describes duties that correspond to the rights–duties that apply to individuals, governments, international organizations and transnational corporations.


Draft Declaration of Human Rights and the Environment:

Preamble

Guided by the United Nations Charter, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Vienna Declaration and Program of Action of the World Conference of Human Rights, and other relevant international human rights instruments,

Guided also by the Stockholm Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, the World Charter for Nature, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, Agenda 21: Programme of Action for Sustainable Development, and other relevant instruments of international environmental law,

Guided also by the Declaration on the Right to Development, which recognizes that the right to development is an essential human right and that the human person is the central subject of development,

Guided further by fundamental principles of international humanitarian law,

Reaffirming the universality, indivisibility and interdependence of all human rights,

Recognizing that sustainable development links the right to development and the right to a secure, healthy and ecologically sound environment,

Recalling the right of peoples to self-determination by virtue of which they have the right freely to determine their political status and to pursue their economic, social and cultural development,

Deeply concerned by the severe human rights consequences of environmental harm caused by poverty, structural adjustment and debt programmes and by international trade and intellectual property regimes,

Convinced that the potential irreversibility of environmental harm gives rise to special responsibility to prevent such harm,

Concerned that human rights violations lead to environmental degradation and that environmental degradation leads to human rights violations,

THE FOLLOWING PRINCIPLES ARE DECLARED:

Part I

1. Human rights, an ecologically sound environment, sustainable development and peace are interdependent and indivisible.

2. All persons have the right to a secure, healthy and ecologically sound environment. This right and other human rights, including civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights, are universal, interdependent and indivisible.

3. All persons shall be free from any form of discrimination in regard to actions and decisions that affect the environment.

4. All persons have the right to an environment adequate to meet equitably the needs of present generations and that does not impair the rights of future generations to meet equitably their needs.

Part II

5. All persons have the right to freedom from pollution, environmental degradation and activities that adversely affect the environment, threaten life, health, livelihood, well-being or sustainable development within, across or outside national boundaries.

6. All persons have the right to protection and preservation of the air, soil, water, sea-ice, flora and fauna, and the essential processes and areas necessary to maintain biological diversity and ecosystems.

7. All persons have the right to the highest attainable standard of health free from environmental harm.

8. All persons have the right to safe and healthy food and water adequate to their well-being.

9. All persons have the right to a safe and healthy working environment.

10. All persons have the right to adequate housing, land tenure and living conditions in a secure, healthy and ecologically sound environment.

11 . All persons have the right not to be evicted from their homes or land for the purpose of, or as a consequence of, decisions or actions affecting the environment, except in emergencies or due to a compelling purpose benefiting society as a whole and not attainable by other means. All persons have the right to participate effectively in decisions and to negotiate concerning their eviction and the right, if evicted, to timely and adequate restitution, compensation and/or appropriate and sufficient accommodation or land.

12. All persons have the right to timely assistance in the event of natural or technological or other human-caused catastrophes.

13. Everyone has the right to benefit equitably from the conservation and sustainable use of nature and natural resources for cultural, ecological, educational, health, livelihood, recreational, spiritual or other purposes. This Includes ecologically sound access to nature.

Everyone has the right to preservation of unique sites, consistent with the fundamental rights of persons or groups living in the area.

14. Indigenous peoples have the right to control their lands, territories and natural resources and to maintain their traditional way of life. This includes the right to security in the enjoyment of their means of subsistence.

Indigenous peoples have the right to protection against any action or course of conduct that may result in the destruction or degradation of their territories, including land, air, water, sea-ice, wildlife or other resources.

Part III

15. All persons have the right to information concerning the environment. This includes information, howsoever compiled, on actions and courses of conduct that may affect the environment and information necessary to enable effective public participation in environmental decision-making. The information shall be timely, clear, understandable and available without undue financial burden to the applicant.

16. All persons have the right to hold and express opinions and to disseminate ideas and information regarding the environment.

17. All persons have the right to environmental and human rights education.

18. All persons have the right to active, free, and meaningful participation in planning and decision-making activities and processes that may have an impact on the environment and development. This includes the right to a prior assessment of the environmental, developmental and human rights consequences of proposed actions.

19. All persons have the right to associate freely and peacefully with others for purposes of protecting the environment or the rights of persons affected by environmental harm.

20. All persons have the right to effective remedies and redress in administrative or judicial proceedings for environmental harm or the threat of such harm.

Part IV

21. All persons, individually and in association with others, have a duty to protect and preserve the environment.

22. All States shall respect and ensure the right to a secure, healthy and ecologically sound environment. Accordingly, they shall adopt the administrative, legislative and other measures necessary to effectively implement the rights in this Declaration.

These measures shall aim at the prevention of environmental harm, at the provision of adequate remedies, and at the sustainable use of natural resources and shall include, inter alia,

  • collection and dissemination of information concerning the environment
  • prior assessment and control, licensing, regulation or prohibition of activities and substances potentially harmful to the environment;
  • public participation in environmental decision-making;
  • effective administrative and judicial remedies and redress for environmental harm and the threat of such harm;
  • monitoring, management and equitable sharing of natural resources;
  • measures to reduce wasteful processes of production and patterns of consumption;
  • measures aimed at ensuring that transnational corporations, wherever they operate, carry out their duties of environmental protection, sustainable development and respect for human rights; and
  • measures aimed at ensuring that the international organizations and agencies to which they belong observe the rights and duties in this Declaration.

23. States and all other parties shall avoid using the environment as a means of war or inflicting significant, long-term or widespread harm on the environment, and shall respect international law providing protection for the environment in times of armed conflict and cooperate in its further development.

24. All international organizations and agencies shall observe the rights and duties in this Declaration.

Part V

25. In implementing the rights and duties in this Declaration, special attention shall be given to vulnerable persons and groups.

26. The rights in this Declaration may be subject only to restrictions provided by law and which are necessary to protect public order, health and the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.

27. All persons are entitled to a social and international order in which the rights in this Declaration can be fully realized.

Utopia

Posted on 15 February 2021 | Comments Off on Utopia

We all need a vision that draws us to a healthier, more prosocial and life-affirming future. Having that vision gives us a destination, but also makes it easier to find the specific steps needed to create the vision’s embodiment.

This episode of Stories Make the Future is about creating a vision of a functional future rather than a perfect one: something more likely to lead to a utopian future with which we can live.

Core Values

Posted on 15 February 2021 | Comments Off on Core Values

I believe in the value of human life in all its diversity.
I believe in the value of our living world in all its diversity.
I understand we live in a world that includes violence, cruelty, and unfairness.
We also live in a world where peace and compassion have created change.
From my experience the means by which you achieve your goals are part of the goals themselves.
You cannot achieve peace through violence.
However, you cannot achieve peace by allowing violent people to get their way.
They will simply knock you down and damage more people and more of life.
Forgiveness is not release from responsibility.
Unity is not about meeting destructiveness half way.
We must be unified for something.
Let that be a unity founded on universal well-being:
everyone and every living thing has the opportunity to live secure lives.
We must look to a future where our lives are valued
not because we are special,
but simply because we are human and alive.

In peace and kindness,

Katherine

Thoughts Going into 2021

Posted on 27 December 2020 | Comments Off on Thoughts Going into 2021

I am seriously concerned going into 2021. I hope I am wrong.

We seem to be descending into greater and greater hostility. My sense is that people are rightfully feeling endangered. However, their solution is to hit at easy targets rather than coming together to create culture change.

For instance those who are suffering from the deep social inequalities our culture is creating, instead of collectively acting to remove power from those who are hoarding wealth, turn to those who are weak or weaker than they and bully them for “stealing” jobs. In this way nothing changes and we are all worse off.

I wrote the below after a mostly sleepless night.

___

There is no peace without justice.
There is no justice where there is vengeance.

Fear is understandable.
Hatred is not the tool by which you overcome fear and oppression.
Tit for tat means you are playing by the monster’s handbook and learning to be a monster yourself.
Ask yourself–if I do this, am I any better than my enemies?

Always self-examine, because none of us is perfect.

Be willing to give second-chances, but question third or fourth chances.
You do not create a better world by allowing people to walk all over you.

No person is without flaws, no community is without flaws. One of the most dangerous things we do to ourselves and others is not acknowledge this.
Question the values of your oppressors. Do not perpetuate a culture of oppression by internalising their values.
Question the values of your own culture. You do not get a free pass to oppress others because you are part of an oppressed community.
Most especially do not protect those of your own, who are abusing your members, simply because they are public figures or figures of authority. You can create new public figures and new leaders. The sting of shame will pass, but damage to your own if these individuals are not called to justice can last lifetimes.

You cannot forcibly change people, you can only be there for them when they are ready to change.
The best way to create change is to be a good example of what you want to see in the world.

We need to be worried about how hostile we have all become.
We need to be worried about how self-absorbed we have all become.
Right now the planet needs our cooperation and goodwill.
You personally do not have to show kindness toward those who are doing you genuine harm, but do not perpetuate hostility.
Then we have to find each other by practising friendliness and social care.

In peace and kindness,

Katherine

World Charter for Nature

Posted on 15 October 2020 | Comments Off on World Charter for Nature

In October of 1982 one hundred and eleven member states of the United Nations signed the UN World Charter for Nature. A few nations did not vote and some abstained, but only one country voted against this document: the United States.

Currently, the full document for this charter is unavailable on the United Nations website. If you follow the link to it, you will just receive a “404 page not found” message, which I find deeply concerning.

As such I felt to raise awareness of this important document, I would publish it here.

Read this, then check to see if your country signed it. If they have done so, then they are bound by treaty to abide by its precepts. Certainly, it may still need ratifying by your federal government in order to become law. Nevertheless, you have every right to insist that it does.

When we make important international agreements, particularly ones to do with our collective well-being, it is important to demonstrate we are a people of our word, we are a country of integrity. Our nation is one deserving of the world’s respect.

~~~

UN GA RES 37/7

World Charter for Nature (1982)

The General Assembly,

Reaffirming the fundamental purposes of the United Nations, in particular the maintenance of international peace and security, the development of friendly relations among nations and the achievement of international cooperation in solving international problems of an economic, social, cultural, technical, intellectual or humanitarian character,

Aware that:

(a) Mankind is a part of nature and life depends on the uninterrupted functioning of natural systems which ensure the supply of energy and nutrients,

(b) Civilization is rooted in nature, which has shaped human culture and influenced all artistic and scientific achievements, and living in harmony with nature gives man the best opportunities for the development of his creativity, and for rest and recreation,

Convinced that:

(a) Every form of life is unique, warranting respect regardless of its worth to man, and, to accord other organisms such recognition, man must be guided by a moral code of action,

(b) Man can alter nature and exhaust natural resources by his action or its consequences and, therefore, must fully recognize the urgency of maintaining the stability and quality of nature and of conserving natural resources,

Persuaded that:

(a) Lasting benefits from nature depend upon the maintenance of essential ecological processes and life support systems, and upon the diversity of life forms, which are jeopardized through excessive exploitation and habitat destruction by man,

(b) The degradation of natural systems owing to excessive consumption and misuse of natural resources, as well as to failure to establish an appropriate economic order among peoples and among States, leads to the breakdown of the economic, social and political framework of civilization,

(c) Competition for scarce resources creates conflicts, whereas the conservation of nature and natural resources contributes to justice and the maintenance of peace and cannot be achieved until mankind learns to live in peace and to forsake war and armaments,

Reaffirming that man must acquire the knowledge to maintain and enhance his ability to use natural resources in a manner which ensures the preservation of the species and ecosystems for the benefit of present and future generations,

Firmly convinced of the need for appropriate measures, at the national and international, individual and collective, and private and public levels, to protect nature and promote international co-operation in this field,

Adopts, to these ends, the present World Charter for Nature, which proclaims the following principles of conservation by which all human conduct affecting nature is to be guided and judged.

I. GENERAL PRINCIPLES

  1. Nature shall be respected and its essential processes shall not be impaired.
  2. The genetic viability on the earth shall not be compromised; the population levels of all life forms, wild and domesticated, must be at
    least sufficient for their survival, and to this end necessary habitat shall be safeguarded.
  3. All areas of the earth, both land and sea, shall be subject to these principles of conservation; special protection shall be given to unique areas, to representative samples of all the different types of ecosystems and to the habitat of rare or endangered species.
  4. Ecosystems and organisms, as well as the land, marine and atmospheric resources that are utilized by man, shall be managed to achieve and maintain optimum sustainable productivity, but not in such a way as to endanger the integrity of those other ecosystems or species with which they coexist.
  5. Nature shall be secured against degradation caused by warfare or other hostile activities.

II. FUNCTIONS

  1. In the decision-making process it shall be recognized that man’s needs can be met only by ensuring the proper functioning of natural systems and by respecting the principles set forth in the present Charter.
  2. In the planning and implementation of social and economic development activities, due account shall be taken of the fact that the conservation of nature is an integral part of those activities.
  3. In formulating long-term plans for economic development, population growth and the improvement of standards of living, due account shall be taken of the long-term capacity of natural systems to ensure the subsistence and settlement of the populations concerned, recognizing that this capacity may be enhanced through science and technology.
  4. The allocation of areas of the earth to various uses shall be planned and due account shall be taken of the physical constraints, the biological productivity and diversity and the natural beauty of the areas concerned.
  5. Natural resources shall not be wasted, but used with a restraint appropriate to the principles set forth in the present Charter, in accordance with the following rules:
    (a) Living resources shall not be utilized in excess of their natural capacity for regeneration;
    (b) The productivity of soils shall be maintained or enhanced through measures which safeguard their long-term fertility and the process of organic decomposition, and prevent erosion and all other forms of degradation;
    (c) Resources, including water, which are not consumed as they are used shall be reused or recycled;
    (d) Non-renewable resources which are consumed as they are used shall be exploited with restraint, taking into account their abundance, their rational possibilities of converting them for consumption, and the compatibility of their exploitation with the functioning of natural systems.
  6. Activities which might have an impact on nature shall be controlled, and the best available technologies that minimize significant risks to nature or other adverse effects shall be used; in particular:
    (a) Activities which are likely to cause irreversible damage to nature shall be avoided;
    (b) Activities which are likely to pose a significant risk to nature shall be preceded by an exhaustive examination; their proponents shall demonstrate that expected benefits outweigh potential damage to nature, and where potential adverse effects are not fully understood, the activities should not proceed;
    (c) Activities which may disturb nature shall be preceded by assessment of their consequences, and environmental impact studies of development projects shall be conducted sufficiently in advance, and if they are to be undertaken, such activities shall be planned and carried out so as to minimize potential adverse effects;
    (d) Agriculture, grazing, forestry and fisheries practices shall be adapted to the natural characteristics and constraints of given areas;
    (e) Areas degraded by human activities shall be rehabilitated for purposes in accord with their natural potential and compatible with the well-being of affected populations.
  7. Discharge of pollutants into natural systems shall be avoided and:
    (a) Where this is not feasible, such pollutants shall be treated at the source, using the best practicable means available;
    (b) Special precautions shall be taken to prevent discharge of radioactive or toxic wastes.
  8. Measures intended to prevent, control or limit natural disasters, infestations and diseases shall be specifically directed to the causes of these scourges and shall avoid averse side-effects on nature.

III. IMPLEMENTATION

  1. The principles set forth in the present Charter shall be reflected in the law and practice of each State, as well as at the international level.
  2. Knowledge of nature shall be broadly disseminated by all possible means, particularly by ecological education as an integral part of general education.
  3. All planning shall include, among its essential elements, the formulation of strategies for the conservation of nature, the establishment of inventories of ecosystems and assessments of the effects on nature of proposed policies and activities; all of these elements shall be disclosed to the public by appropriate means in time to permit effective consultation and participation.
  4. Funds, programmes and administrative structures necessary to achieve the objective of the conservation of nature shall be provided.
  5. Constant efforts shall be made to increase knowledge of nature by scientific research and to disseminate such knowledge unimpeded by restrictions of any kind.
  6. The status of natural processes, ecosystems and species shall be closely monitored to enable early detection of degradation or threat, ensure timely intervention and facilitate the evaluation of conservation policies and methods.
  7. Military activities damaging to nature shall be avoided.
  8. States and, to the extent they are able, other public authorities, international organizations, individuals, groups and corporations shall:
    (a) Co-operate in the task of conserving nature through common activities and other relevant actions, including information exchange and consultations;
    (b) Establish standards for products and other manufacturing processes that may have adverse effects on nature, as well as agreed methodologies for assessing these effects;
    (c) Implement the applicable international legal provisions for the conservation of nature and the protection of the environment;
    (d) Ensure that activities within their jurisdictions or control do not cause damage to the natural systems located within other States or in the areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction;
    (e) Safeguard and conserve nature in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
  9. Taking fully into account the sovereignty of States over their natural resources, each State shall give effect to the provisions of the present Charter through its competent organs and in co-operation with other States.
  10. All persons, in accordance with their national legislation, shall have the opportunity to participate, individually or with others, in the formulation of decisions of direct concern to their environment, and shall have access to means of redress when their environment has suffered damage or degradation.
  11. Each person has a duty to act in accordance with the provisions of the present Charter, acting individually, in association with others or through participation in the political process, each person shall strive to ensure that the objectives and requirements of the present Charter are met.

In peace and kindness,

Katherine

Crossing Bridges

Posted on 15 October 2020 | Comments Off on Crossing Bridges

Congress member John Lewis is a big hero of mine: right up there with Desmond Tutu, Jane Goodall, and Malala Yousafzai. He did so much to ensure the kind, respectful, and fair treatment of all people in the US. This episode of Stories Make the Future is dedicated to John Lewis. After all he exemplifies what stories of change need to look like.

This Is the Problem

Posted on 24 September 2020 | Comments Off on This Is the Problem

This video introduces people to social problem fiction. This is a genre used to reflect upon the issues people have to face today. It is an important way to hold a mirror up to the realities many people are living.

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