Monday, July 20, 2015

Confronting our Privilege

Araya, the film, is billed as high art and high cinema.  

It has much been reviewed to critical acclaim in this regard.  The film maker, Margot Benacerraf, in addition to thinking of this film as a ‘tone poem,’ also intended the film to be commentary on the loss of traditional culture due to modernization.  She glorifies the stark and impoverished lives of the salt miners and their families. The people she dehumanizes as gestural art worked relentlessly, from childhood to old age, and for many hours every day.  For this continual labor, they secured a marginal and bare existence, so that she and we could salt our food at extremely little cost or effort.  This is the privilege that is unmentioned yet front and center in the film.  This is the same privilege that ultimately took apart the traditions that Benacerraf found so quaint and artfully dear—not for the good of the people involved—but rather to reduce the cost of producing salt even further.  

While this film was produced in 1959, unfortunately, the lives of abject poverty depicted—where labor starts in childhood—are still common in many salt producing parts of the world.  However, we have a choice.  We can support ethically produced and Certified Fair Trade salt, and if we do the idea of fairness will spread.  In fact, when purchasing imported foods or other items, you are probably supporting corporations that degrade and devalue human life if you don’t insist on Fair Trade.  Salt, as it turns out, is still one of the worst offenders when it comes to child labor and other labor abuses.  And of course, these abuses are not art.  Other particularly egregious abuses in today’s world concern coffee and chocolate production.

For more information please see our posts on --

Meanwhile, educate yourself and your friends.  The film, Araya, is available through college, public, and school libraries as well as other video outlets, on request.  And while this isn’t our favorite film, it does help us all confront our privilege.

Check out our post on ‘Peace Making and the Power ofNarrative.’  It starts out with a short essay on privilege that we think is very worth reading.


Our recommended DVDs can be found here:

Participate!  If you know of other media that helps us confront and understand our privilege, whether they are articles, books, CDs, DVD’s, periodicals, or websites--please share in comments.  We may be able to feature your recommendations in an up-coming blog post!
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Monday, July 6, 2015

Not Just a Chosen Few

Get Onboard

Music for Peace Makers


The work of Peace Making requires music!

The album, Get On Board, by Eric Bibb, is both soulful and deep. It hints at the troubles of this world, with many reflections on the ideological solutions that we must embrace.  While serious, the music is fun and danceable. The lyrics are easy to learn. The songs definitely grow on you while helping you grow in Peacefulness.

In the first cut, Spirit I Am, Bibb expresses the core of his spirituality, "to assert my own identity with the whole, the oneness of all things."  He asks in this song, "Am I the change I long to see?"  A question that Peace Makers need to remember to ask themselves regularly.

God's Kingdom reminds us that "Peace is the way" and to "shout the good news till the walls tumble and fall."  "Not just a chosen few, but every one that’s true, God's kingdom is in us all." 

In Step by Step, he sings that we are "walking to freedom, on a rocky road that others have walked before." He also encourages us with the words, "brothers stay strong, sisters hold on."

Stayed on Freedom reminds us that we "can't hate your neighbor in your mind when your straight on freedom" and that we "love everybody in your mind" when you are "stayed on freedom."

While the album is very universal in its ideals, the music definitely has the flavor of Christian gospel, with a few love songs through in.  Bibb mentions the "promised land" in several of the songs. This  may be offensive to Indigenous people who have been deprived of their homelands based on invading people's claims that the land they have ethnically cleansed and now occupy was promised to them.  Bibb's intention, however, is clearly on the idea that we create the mythical land of promise right where we are, by our own peaceful and loving actions. 

We do think that most of our readers will enjoy Get on Board, by Eric Bibb.


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Thursday, July 2, 2015

Restore Funding to UNESCO


UNESCO is engaged in the important work of:

"Building peace in the minds of men and women."


The United States withdrew support for UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization in 2011, in response to the U.N.'s recognition of a Palestinian State.  As a result the U.S. no longer has UNESCO voting rights.   The loss of U.S. funding amounted to 22% of UNESCO's budget and has "plunged it into a funding crisis and forced it to cut programs."


 Sign the Petition to Restore U.S. Funding


The U.S.  withdrew $60 million from UNESCO, a U.N. organization that provides vital support to thousands of needy people around the world. This was because UNESCO voted to allow Palestine as a member, and an old U.S. law requires our government to cut funding from any organization that officially recognizes Palestine. Regardless of whatever feelings we may have about the Israel-Palestine conflict, we cannot allow innocent people around the world to become the collateral damage of that conflict. Please join me in asking Congress and President Obama to overturn this archaic law, and restore funding to these vital and non-partisan programs.

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