Category Archives: Human Spirit

1,000+ US Faith Leaders Call for ‘Christmas Truce’ and Ceasefire in Ukraine

“In the spirit of the truce that occurred in 1914 during the First World War, we urge our government to take a leadership role in bringing the war in Ukraine to an end.”

By Jake Johnson.  Published 12-23-2022 by Common Dreams.

Taking inspiration from the storied holiday fighting pause in the early months of the First World War, more than 1,000 faith leaders in the United States have signed onto a statement calling for a Christmas truce and ceasefire in Ukraine in the hopes that such a gesture would open the door to substantive diplomatic negotiations.

“As people of faith and conscience, believing in the sanctity of all life on this planet, we call for a Christmas Truce in Ukraine,” reads the statement, which was signed by Bishop William J. Barber II, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Dr. Cornel West, Rev. Liz Theoharis, Rabbi Arthur Waskow, Sikh leader Valarie Kaur, and hundreds of other religious leaders representing believers from every major tradition. Continue reading

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Effort to recover Indigenous language also revitalizes culture, history and identity

Myaamia Heritage Program students get a lesson from Daryl Baldwin, executive director of the Myaamia Center at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
Scott Kissell, Miami University, CC BY-ND

 

Daryl Wade Baldwin, Miami University

When the federal government set up boarding schools in the 19th century to assimilate Native American children into American culture, one of the objectives was to get them to turn away from the use of their native languages. In recognition of Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the U.S., The Conversation turned to Daryl Baldwin, a citizen of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma who is a leader in Native American language and cultural revitalization and a member of the National Council on the Humanities, for insight into a tribal community’s efforts working with a university to help bring languages back.

How were Indigenous languages lost?

Many actions throughout history put pressure on tribal communities to abandon the use of their languages. This included the forced assimilation that resulted from the Indian Civilization Act of 1819. This act established Indian boarding schools to teach subjects such as math and science while suppressing the use of Indigenous languages and cultures. Continue reading

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Indigenous People Push Back Against US ‘Thanksgiving Mythology’

“We will not stop telling the truth about the Thanksgiving story and what happened to our ancestors,” says Kisha James, whose grandfather founded the National Day of Mourning in 1970.

By Jessica Corbett  Published 11-24-2022 by Common Dreams

“Many of the conditions that prevailed in Indian Country in 1970 still prevail today,” Kisha James said in Plymouth, Massachusetts on November 24, 2022, pointing to life expectancy, suicide, and infant mortality rates—along with the rising death rate for Native women. (Photo: screenshot/hate5six/YouTube)

The United American Indians of New England and allies gathered at noon Thursday at Cole’s Hill in Plymouth, Massachusetts for the 53rd National Day of Mourning—an annual tradition that serves as “a day of remembrance and spiritual connection, as well as a protest against the racism and oppression that Indigenous people continue to experience worldwide.”

“We don’t have any issues with people sitting down with their family and giving thanks,” Kisha James—who is an enrolled member of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) and is also Oglala Lakota—told BBC. “What we do object to is the Thanksgiving mythology.” Continue reading

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‘Earth Is Now Our Only Shareholder’: Founder Gives Away Patagonia to Save the Planet

“Hopefully this will influence a new form of capitalism that doesn’t end up with a few rich people and a bunch of poor people,” said Yvon Chouinard. “We are going to give away the maximum amount of money to people who are actively working on saving this planet.”

By Jessica Corbett  Published 9-14-2022 by Common Dreams

“We needed to find a way to put more money into fighting the crisis while keeping the company’s values intact,” Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard wrote in a letter explaining his family’s ownership decision. (Photo: Patagonia/Facebook)

Patagonia founder and “reluctant billionaire” Yvon Chouinard just raised the bar for corporate action on the fossil fuel-driven planetary emergency.

The 83-year-old, his wife Malinda, and their adult children, Fletcher and Claire, gave away the company, valued at about $3 billion. The rock climber-turned-businessman explained the decision in an interview published Wednesday by The New York Times, along with a letter on the outdoor clothing retailer’s website. Continue reading

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Nebraska Mother, Daughter Face Abortion Charges After Facebook Shares Chats With Police

“Until Meta gives up surveilling private messages and begins protecting its users with end-to-end encryption, it remains complicit in the surveillance and criminalization of pregnant people,” said one advocate.

By Julia Conley  Published 8-10-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: iphonedigital/flickr/CC

Digital rights advocates on Tuesday said an abortion case in Nebraska illustrates how powerful tech companies like Facebook could play a major role in prosecutions of people who self-manage abortions as more states ban the procedure, and called on the social media platform to reform its privacy policies to protect users.

The case in Nebraska centers on a 17-year-old girl and her mother, Celeste and Jessica Burgess, who sent messages on Facebook regarding plans to terminate Celeste’s pregnancy prior to Roe v. Wade being overturned in June. Continue reading

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The volunteers risking their lives to secretly educate Afghanistan’s girls

Nine months on from the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul, teenage girls remain deprived of their right to education

By Deepa Parent  Published 6-3-2022 by openDemocracy

Matiullah Wesa and other PenPath volunteers travel around Afghanistan teaching children Photo: PenPath

In 2002, when Matiullah Wesa was a teenager, the Taliban burned his school. It was this, he told openDemocracy, that led him to dedicate his life to ensuring other children in Afghanistan can get an education.

Wesa is the co-founder of PenPath, an NGO that works to reopen closed schools in the country’s rural areas – from the Spin Boldak district in Kandahar to Helmand province – and has so far educated more than 57,000 children. Continue reading

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Ukraine’s women fighters reflect a cultural tradition of feminist independence

A Ukrainian soldier on March 9, 2022, waits for a train in Lviv that will take her to the front line.
Vincenzo Circosta/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Mia Bloom, Georgia State University and Sophia Moskalenko, Georgia State University

Tens of thousands of Ukrainian women have taken up arms during the war sparked by Russia’s invasion. According to media reports, women constitute as much as 15% to 17% of the Ukrainian fighting force.

In the first two weeks of the conflict, social media was replete with images of Ukrainian women training for combat. On March 15, CNN reported that after dropping off their parents and children in the border town of Przemysl, Poland, some Ukrainian women are turning around to go back to the fight. Continue reading

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Ukraine is benefiting from generous donations – and many other global causes need help, too

A Yemeni mother holds the tiny foot of her malnourished child in 2021.
Mohammed Hamoud/Getty Images

Jessica Eise, The University of Texas at San Antonio

Ukraine’s resistance to Russia has captivated the world, dominating social media and the news since the Feb. 24, 2022, invasion. With this attention has come a massive outpouring of financial support.

Ordinary people, governments, corporations and celebrities have pledged billions to support Ukraine and have dispatched everything from missiles to cryptocurrency. Stories of sacrifice inspire courage, and photos of vulnerable victims, such as the pregnant woman on a stretcher after a bombing, have ignited rage and pain. When reports surfaced that the woman and her baby had both died, the collective sorrow only deepened.

The urge to express solidarity by making your own donation is only natural. Continue reading

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How Zelenskyy emerged as the antithesis of Putin and proved you don’t need to be a strongman to be a great leader

Volodymyr Zelenskyy has been lauded for his resistance to the Russian invasion.
Photo by Laurent Van der Stockt for Le Monde/Getty Images

Michael Blake, University of Washington

Whatever happens in the coming weeks, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will go down as the face of Ukrainian resilience during the Russian invasion of his country.

His response to the Russian invasion of his country has been widely praised, both at home and abroad. His speech to the European Parliament in early March received a standing ovation. Western press outlets have referred to him as a “hero,” as the “voice” of his nation, and as a “focal point” for democratic resistance to tyranny. Continue reading

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How a Black writer in 19th-century America used humor to combat white supremacy

Charles Chesnutt was one of the first widely read Black fiction writers in the U.S.
RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Rodney Taylor, University of South Carolina

Any writer has to struggle with the dilemma of staying true to their vision or giving editors and readers what they want. A number of factors might influence the latter: the market, trends and sensibilities.

But in the decades after the Civil War, Black writers looking to faithfully depict the horrors of slavery had to contend with readers whose worldviews were colored by racism, as well as an entire swath of the country eager to paper over the past. Continue reading

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