Thursday, April 09, 2009

My Present Path Toward Advocacy Journalism (aka Reflections On Independence, Volume 6)

This is the sixth essay in my not quite annual series of Reflections on Independence. In the past I've published these thoughts around July 4. By that time this year, however, I'm expecting my advocacy journalism to be in a whole new place, to which this begins the transition. I will probably only make a few more posts here at the We Do Not Consent blog. Then, as with the suspension of my prior blog, GuvWurld, another free e-book compiling the most essential pieces from WDNC will serve to promote the launch of my next site, a video blog.

For the last six plus years I have done this public service work while assiduously avoiding reference to my wife and the business we built together. At the end of last year I exited our professional partnership, and our divorce will be final soon. This has given me time and space to create the life I'd like to lead now, a natural extension of the communication strategies and organizing experiences I've blogged about, and most definitely a new debt-free era of multi-faceted independence.

Friday morning I'll be embarking on an extended road trip, itself a reflection of my new independence. I'm hoping to have a new video camera by next week and possibly to begin posting content by the end of the month. The reunions I'll have between now and then are all with people who have greatly supported and deeply affected this part of my life. I eagerly anticipate the opportunity to explore the nature of my future collaborations with these folks.

In addition to the emphasis on video, I can also say at this point that my next blog will launch with a glossary I have already written to summarize and define the dozens of terms and concepts I have coined and cultivated over the years. I intend to continue developing these ideas, using them to create a talk show based on the Project-Based Format (see Time To Check Your Least, 11/24/07). In the long run, the glossary will grow and expand, providing a frame of reference companion piece for the program.

The launch will also include publication of a proposal detailing how the show would work, to be followed later this spring by a demo of the program. In a nutshell, I am going to be seeking out people and organizations doing public service to ask: If you had unfettered access to media to promote your work, what would you do? How would you use this exposure to achieve your goals? This is where the content will begin to come from for the talk show. I welcome e-mail from those ready to participate. Here are just a few of the topics I think we can advance:

Helping returning veterans re-adjust to society; Understanding environmental implications of diet; Building sustainable local economies; Triple bottom line; Green building; Alternative energy and transportation; Emergency preparedness; Identifying edible plants; Supporting conscientious objectors and war resisters.

Basically, if your work empowers people at the grassroots, I want to hear from you. If you are a citizen journalist making independent media, let's work together. If you are about manifesting positivity, building the better world the corporate/military/government/media juggernaut doesn't even want us to imagine - we are on the same page. E-mail me.

Meanwhile, independence has already allowed me to volunteer on several other projects, including the art site BARDoodle; the future wilderness therapy retreat now called Veterans Spirit at Incopah; the media committee of Vets For Peace Chapter 56; and the next edition of the independent magazine The Steelhead Special, due out July 4. This issue of the Steelie will demonstrate multiple examples of advocacy journalism through interviews with various Humboldt community organizers, including one that Tom Pinto and I will conduct in May. By the way, I recently learned that Wikipedia has an entry for advocacy journalism and this 2004 essay of mine is cited as the first reference source.

I can't say any of this will be in a context that is more or less political than I've been until now, but I can say my changed circumstances and personal growth will be evident. For now I'll just recommend two books I've recently gotten a lot from. First is Eckhart Tolle's "A New Earth," a very popular book that has helped me view ego in a new way, separating my sense of self from the thoughts and emotions I have, ultimately leaving me happier, more loving, and better able to calibrate the intensity that I project (in a word, present). I have found myself discussing this book with dozens of people, one of whom recommended another powerful paradigm changer, Rob Brezsny's "Pronoia," which essentially is the belief that the universe is conspiring on your behalf.

This is quite a departure from my previous Reflections on Independence, all of which were written during the Bush regime, all harkening to the Declaration of Independence as the master change manual bequeathed to us by the nation's founders. In keeping with tradition, I have posted the historic document in full below and encourage you to read or hopefully re-read what may be humanity's most hopeful and inspiring expression of freedom.

When we remember that our rights are unalienable; that government exists only to secure, not create or grant, these rights; that government legitimacy derives entirely from the Consent of the Governed; when we Reflect on Independence, we realize our Life, Liberty and Happiness are birthrights to preserve and never give up, never allow ourselves to be denied; we realize our Consent must no longer be taken for granted lest we sabotage ourselves through complicity in the harm being done to us all; and we realize that nothing less than "our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor" are at stake - both what we stand to lose and what it will take to survive, sort of a cosmic use it or lose it.

* * *
Read past installments:

Reflections On Independence 2002
Reflections On Independence 2003
Reflections On Independence 2005
Reflections On Independence 2006
Reflections On Independence 2007

* * *

July 4, 1776

The Unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united* States of America.

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the Political Bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the separate and equal Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent Respect to the Opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the Separation.

We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness -- That to secure these Rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive to these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shown that Mankind are more disposed to suffer, while Evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security. Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The History of the present King of Great- Britain is a History of repeated Injuries and Usurpations, all having in direct Object the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid World.

HE has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public Good.

HE has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing Importance, unless suspended in their Operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

HE has refused to pass other Laws for the Accommodation of large Districts of People, unless those People would relinquish the Right of Representation in the Legislature, a Right inestimable to them and formidable to Tyrants only.

HE has called together Legislative Bodies at Places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the Depository of their public Records, for the sole Purpose of fatiguing them into Compliance with his Measures.

HE has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly Firmness his Invasions on the Rights of the People.

HE has refused for a long Time, after such Dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the meantime exposed to all the Dangers of Invasion from without, and the Convulsions within.

HE has endeavored to prevent the Population of these States; for that Purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migration hither, and raising the Conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

HE has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

HE has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure of their Offices, and the Amount and Payment of their Salaries.

HE has erected a Multitude of new Offices, and sent hither Swarms of Officers to harass our People, and eat out their Substance.

HE has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies without the consent of our Legislature.

HE has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to Civil Power.

HE has combined with others to subject us to a Jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our Laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

FOR quartering large Bodies of Armed Troops among us:

FOR protecting them, by mock Trial, from Punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

FOR cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World:

FOR imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

FOR depriving us in many Cases, of the Benefits of Trial by Jury:

FOR transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended Offences:

FOR abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighboring Province, establishing therein an arbitrary Government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an Example and fit Instrument for introducing the same absolute Rule into these Colonies:

FOR taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

FOR suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with Power to legislate for us in all Cases whatsoever.

HE has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

HE has plundered our Seas, ravaged our Coasts, burned our Towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.

HE is, at this Time, transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the Works of Death, Desolation, and Tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous Ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized Nation.

HE has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the Executioners of their Friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

HE has excited domestic Insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the Inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known Rule of Warfare, is undistinguished Destruction of all Ages, Sexes and Conditions.

IN every stage of these Oppressions we have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble Terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated Injury. A Prince, whose Character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a free People.

NOR have we been wanting in Attentions to our British Brethren. We have warned them from Time to Time of attempts by their Legislature to extend an unwarrantable Jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the Circumstances of our Emigration and Settlement here. We have appealed to their native Justice and Magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the Ties of our common Kindred to disavow these Usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our Connections and Correspondence. They too have been deaf to the Voice of Justice and Consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the Necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of Mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace, Friends.

WE, therefore, the Representatives of the UNITED STATES of AMERICA, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, that these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which INDEPENDENT STATES may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

· New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
· Massachusetts: John Hancock, Samual Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
· Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
· Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
· New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
· New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
· Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
· Delaware: Caesar Rodney, George Read, Thomas McKean
· Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
· Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson, Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
· North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
· South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton
· Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton.


* Although this capitalization of "united" differs from the images of copies of the Declaration of Independence viewable at the Library of Congress's Web site (*, it follows the capitalization found on the images of the Declaration of Independence held by the National Archives and Records Administration (*

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We Do Not Consent, Volume 1 (left) and Volume 2 (right), feature essays from Dave Berman's previous blogs, GuvWurld and We Do Not Consent, respectively. Click the covers for FREE e-book versions (.pdf). As of April 2010, paperbacks are temporarily out of print. Click here for the author's bio.

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