August 28, 2009

Moving forward is not progress if you're facing the wrong direction.

Many, many people have worries about violence, finances, climate change, and the myriad of global issues affecting their lives, but they force their concerns to the back of their minds because they feel the situation is irresolvable.

But something beckons to us to rise above the cycle of violence, of boom and bust, of pillage and poverty. It involves taking personal responsibility, banishing economics as a religion and returning the human being to a more natural and serene existence.

Underneath the COEXIST logo are three words - RESPECT : ACTION : HARMONY. With humility and tolerance we have put forward our concepts and established a mutuality of respect which we hold most dear.
However, respect alone will not bring about the harmonious existence we seek. Action is needed – and on several levels.

1. The first level is personal. We must look for the beauty in life which brings us the greatest sense of honour and well being. For some it will be getting in touch with the soil, the land, the thing on which our very existence depends. For others it might be a form of self advancement such as philosophy and development of insight. Seek it and you will find it.

2. The second level is outgoing. The task is to move the debate forward beyond ourselves and into an environment which may be more hostile. The harmony we seek will only become a reality if we put it there through our own endeavours. No one else is going to do it. Only through respecting others and developing the wisdom to entertain ideas without necessarily accepting them have we forged the thing which is COEXIST. Treating others with respect and dignity at all times is the solution to the issues which blight us today. We have to remind our leaders and representatives how to behave. We must constantly be reminding our institutions and industries of Article 1 of the UDHR that ‘All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.’ and, indeed, sisterhood. From the mega corporations poisoning the land of small holders in developing countries to the institutional economic mismanagement whose effects we will all feel for years to come, to the unjust wars waging around us, the issue was always one of lack of respect for those most likely to be affected by the deed – the individual, the environment and the society. We are the checks and balances. Are you investing in dirty fuel and arms dealers by proxy? When was the last time you checked your bank for its ethical investment policy?

3. The third is non-violent direct action of the type which has played a key role in some of the most important mass movements in history from the suffragettes to the civil rights movement. When groups of ordinary people are prepared to take serious action the media, then the public, start to take notice. Over a million people took to the streets to protest the impending attack on Iraq. The political establishment was shocked, but the march did not stop the war. Why? Because there is a population of 61 million in the UK. Many millions should have been out on the street. They gave up hope when they should have raised their game. Ghandi knew what to do.
You are moving in the right direction if your actions are humane and you have humanity in your heart.

Be trusting of you own instincts, true to you own values. We are the checks and balances and we have a responsibility to act.

August 26, 2009

Join the World March for Peace and Nonviolence

‘Because we can end world hunger with 10% of what is spent on arms. Imagine how life would be if 30-50% of the arms budget went toward improving people’s lives instead of being used for destruction.’

This organisation shares some important values with COEXIST, particularly as it rejects all forms of violence and campaigns for the renunciation by governments of the use of war as a means to resolve conflicts.

The World March will cover 90 countries. It starts on October 2nd 2009 and finishes in Argentina on January 2nd 2010 and will be the first time in history an event of this magnitude has been set in motion through the initiative of the people. The true strength of the World March is born from the simple, conscious act of those who endorse this dignified cause and share it with others.

To find out more, or sign up and join your leg of the journey go to :

As we go forward our COEXIST membership keeps expanding. We reject nothing and no-one. We will continue to put forward new and refreshing ideas, but the emphasis is changing. Treat all around you with respect and dignity and you will work through anything.

August 21, 2009

‘We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.’ Einstein

The Nature of Us

More than half of all human beings live in urban areas. People living between slabs of concrete become detached from nature and this detachment contributes to a drastic rise in mental health problems. Every year ninety million births take place; in a second three children are born: two of them will live in abject poverty. As people migrate in increasing numbers into the towns and cities, the resultant overcrowding brings a silent stress to our natural bodies; the evolutionary force within senses a need to control population growth. Nature is only interested in survival of the species. If there are too many, she will take steps to redress the balance.

During times of danger, war or famine, fertility rates drop. Our bodies protect their few precious eggs by shutting down ovulation. The innate self-protective system which guides the ebb and flow of our reproductive patterns is the wisdom of nature at work. The collective unconscious that lives within us all may decide "We won't make more."

In our conglomerates we have created ‘fear factories’. Fear of not having enough; fear of losing what we do have; fear of the stranger; fear of dying; fear of disease; fear of violence and fear of war. These fears are manufactured for the purpose of controlling large quantities of people living in close proximity. Some might call it civilization.

To counteract these artificial and destructive fears we resort to denial. We enclose ourselves in a cocoon of equally artificial safety from where we cannot sensibly deal with the reality of our lives. We deny the suffering of others, our impact on the environment, the ‘collateral damage’ of pointless war and we deny our individual responsibility to do something about it.

But our most basic natural programming is little to do with these types of fear, or indeed denial. Our most basic need (after food and shelter) is for simple pleasure - such as the touch of a friend, helping someone in need, or enjoyment of a good book. We all instinctively know what is good for us, and we should banish the fear that to tread that path is wrong. Doing what is good for us is empowering, satisfying, healthy and joyful.

‘The idea that six billion of us are needlessly and voluntarily living profoundly destructive, counter-intuitive, unhappy, unhealthy, unnatural, hard, self-limiting, self-sacrificing, deprived lives, and that all we need to do is learn the lessons of nature, change our minds, walk away from civilization and create an stunningly better, joyful life, and save the world in the process, is just too radical, too insane an idea for most people to accept.’ Read Dave Pollard's magnificent and insightful observations:

August 14, 2009

It starts in our own back yard.

COEXIST has grown from just a few friends and associates to more than 1500 members worldwide in only a few short months. It has developed constructive dialogue with many of its members and together we are broadening our horizons and discussing the steps which need to be taken to create a more just world. At COEXIST we believe that the mainstays to a truly Peaceful society will be economic justice, social justice and environmental justice. Without these aspects in place, living in a world of limited violence will not be sustainable. A society seeking peace, whilst striving to have a positive influence on events abroad, must primarily attend to domestic issues. The individual at the heart of the equation has the responsibility of checking the excesses of their own institutions and encouraging positive attitudes.

We will not solve knife crime by sitting mutely in our comfy chairs. We are in this world together – all of us. We have the responsibility of building the future we would like to see. It starts in our own back yard.

COEXIST has had many new members of late, and it is time for a quick refresher of our goals:

Economic Justice

The ultimate purpose of economic justice is to free every individual from the tyranny of greed and allow everyone the opportunity to take part in the world economy without fear of exploitation. It means the abolition of unfair economic institutions, controlling monopolies and unfair trade. It means creating economic strategies which allow individuals freedom to pursue activities beyond the pressing needs of income generation and to engage in the unlimited work of life-building, childrearing and self advancement. It means protecting the rights of the individual to organize and to receive a living wage for their work.

Social Justice

Bound inextricably to economic justice is social justice. This is about developing fair systems of co-operation which span the generations and enable a bedrock of equality and fairness in all that we do. Social justice also imposes on each of us a personal responsibility to work with others to design and continually perfect our institutions as tools for personal and social development. It means operating within the values of compassion and respect. Society can only be just if individuals and institutions are just.

Environmental Justice

Environmental justice is a matter of life and death. Affluent nations plunder the resources of countries with little bargaining power. Often the result is brutal poverty, poisoned land and polluted waterways. Environmental justice requires that every individual has the same degree of protection from health hazards, and equal access to the decision -making processes affecting them. It means allowing only sustainable developments, respecting the resources we have and treating the natural world with the same compassion we would afford to each other

So what caused the economic crisis?

Here is a bite sized explanation of the causes of our current financial mis-management and a possible remedy, by Michael Greaney. Reading the first two Q and A’s puts it in a nutshell.

Powerful Words for Global Visionaries

The global political economy does not make pretty reading. Governments are currently injecting trillions of dollars into their financial systems and the broader economy simply to cushion the fall of equity prices, home values and employment rates (and prop up the bonuses of unrepentant bankers).
This crisis could catalyse the reorganization of the global political economy. Moeen Yaseen comments on the state of the economy and puts forward ideas for a way out.

There is no middle way, he says:

August 07, 2009

Moral Panic and the Media

"Surely if the human race is under threat, it is entirely reasonable to segregate AIDS victims, otherwise the whole of mankind could be engulfed." (The Daily Star, 2 December 1988)

Throughout history, the mass media has been utilised as a tool to appeal to the man and woman in the street. It has been used avidly in the field of politics, where people in a position of power can tempt society into believing what they want them to believe. The media, wittingly or unwittingly, reproduce the definitions of the powerful.

Political elites (which are not necessarily our elected representatives) create moral panics to reinforce their own agendas and to legitimize the punishment of individuals or groups. Mass media is a powerful tool. It will take a story, mould it and stylise it, amplifying the facts and sometimes even distorting them.

Essentially the mass media thrives on sensation and exaggeration to boost their sales. The choice of vocabulary they incorporate and the types of photographs they show have a certain bias to them because they want society to perceive these events in a certain way. For example, at the start of the war in Iraq, the BBC website showed a picture of George Bush looking like everyone’s favourite uncle. On the same day, Al Jazeera had a photo of him looking like the devil incarnate. Same man, different angle.

Although our press claim to reinforce public opinion it is worth asking whether they are a voice for the people or a propaganda tool for the rich and powerful. The panics they create do not often better our lives, but they definitely increase sales.

The sad truth about the information we receive from our favourite daily paper, news channel and magazine, is that more often than not there is a hidden agenda, a bias which ultimately prevents us from understanding the essence of the truth of the situation.

Moral Panic starts with concern that the behaviour of a group is likely to have a negative impact on society. Then it moves on to hostility – a clear division is formed between ‘them’ and ‘us’. Scapegoats are sought and found. So called experts are brought in and paraded as opinion-makers. A consensus is reached, often fanned by rising feelings as the media forms our judgements for us and demands action. Often the action taken is wildly disproportionate to the presumed threat. For example the witch hunts of Renaissance Europe, the McCarthyist public interrogations in the US during the 1950’s, and the way in which the case for war was crafted after 9/11 and the ensuing invention of justifications, all bear the imprint of moral panic.

The media's involvement in all this must not be underestimated.
In the case of the Iraq war the media was instrumental in constructing and exacerbating the case for war. The dominant media issued polls which showed that people would support action of some type, and the appearance of consensus was paraded. At no time was there a point when all the people had the opportunity to definitively answer Yes or No to the question of war. In the UK a million people marched on London to say NO to war, but the popular media did not fight the battle of the people – it had other masters.

What we need is a responsible media which helps us to further the debates and arguments we have about our problems. We would then have more chance of solving them.

‘In old days men had the rack. Now they have the press. That is an improvement certainly. But still it is very bad, and wrong, and demoralizing. Somebody called journalism the fourth estate. That was true at the time no doubt. But at the present moment it is the only estate. It has eaten up the other three. The Lords Temporal say nothing, the Lords Spiritual have nothing to say, and the House of Commons has nothing to say and says it. We are dominated by Journalism.’ Oscar Wilde

The only ones who can campaign for the basic right of a responsible media are we the people. We have a vested interest in knowing the truth because it is our taxes and our lives which are on the line. Until the day we can trust our media, we would be wise to protect our minds from the media we have. If you must have prejudices, at least make sure that they are your own, and not planted in your mind by the popular press.

August 05, 2009

“Could Food Shortages Bring Down Civilization?

One of the more recent causes for the crisis in food availability is the diversion of large amounts of corn, soy, and palm oil into producing industrial-scale biofuels, now commonly known as agrofuel. As many countries seek to break the influence of oil producing nations, they flaunt the new ‘greener’ fuels as some kind of saviour. Of course the greedy way we use and waste power makes their use unsustainable and decidedly ungreen. In 2008 30% of the entire US corn crop was diverted to car fuel production.

World food supplies are badly distributed. One billion people suffer from continual and severe hunger. Another two billion live in perpetual food insecurity . Close to one-sixth of humanity do not know where their next meal is coming from. In the US more then 36 million live in food poverty.

The ‘free market’ has not taken care of the problem. Indeed it has made it worse. Responding to an insatiable demand for meat has diverted valuable vegetable food to cattle fodder. As much as 95% of calories are lost in the conversion of grain and soybeans to meat. Industry is concerned with profit, not with feeding the hungry.
It takes approximately 1,000 pounds of water to grow one pound of wheat and the ratio is similar for other grains. Thus importing food is the same as importing water. Egypt, is cutting back on thirsty rice growing and is already seeding resentment by not compromising on the rights to Nile river water usage. Water security is an issue now.

Governments know what is coming. Africa is being bought up by private industry and large nations alike. Read the full Agriculture and Food in Crisis article here: