New for your health

 

 

food pie

PatsyPie® gluten-free crumble crust

At last, a gluten-free pie crust that doesn’t need freezing. PatsyPie® Old-fashioned Crumble Crust is available now on grocers’ shelves across Canada. Since the crust comes pre-baked, it’s simply a matter of fill ‘n serve. Ideal for cream and custard fillings, cheesecakes, quiches and other favourites, the crust can be baked again if the recipe requires it. Handcrafted in Canada in strictly gluten-free kitchens, PatsyPie’s Old-fashioned Crumble Crust contains no preservatives or starchy fillers. Even people who don’t need to eat gluten-free love PatsyPie. www.patsypie.com, 1-87-PATSY-PIE.


 

bottle

TRU-PINE™

TRU-PINE™ is a Canadian pine bark extract formula. The extraction technology is developed by Agriculture and Agri-Foods Canada. TRU-PINE™ is one of the most potent antioxidant supplements available. Its proprietary formula contains Canadian pine bark extract, rose hips fruit and vitamin C. When combined, the ingredients are synergistically enhanced. The standardized process retains more than 95% OPCs (oligomeric proanthocyanidins). Pine bark is used as an antioxidant against free radicals for the maintenance of good health and contains anti-inflammatory properties. www.tru-pinebarkextract.com, 1-866-727-8800.


 

food suppliment bottles

drinkme™

drinkme™ is a 100% raw, certified organic, whole food beverage made in Canada. Green, Green3 and Ruby are loaded with 3-1/2 to 5-1/2 servings of fruit and vegetables in every bottle. Kale is the star ingredient, but whole oranges, banana and raspberries make drinkme™ fruity, savoury sweet and delicious. Kale teamed with whole beets makes it vibrant, energizing and extremely nutritious. drinkme™ never touches heat in the manufacturing process. Keep frozen then defrost or keep refrigerated for up to three days.www.drinkme.ca


 

suppliment

Warrior Blend

CIntroducing Warrior Blend, a beautiful addition to your daily smoothie routine. Warrior Blend complete protein contains the finest raw plant based protein from raw pea, raw cranberry protein, raw hempseed protein and raw coconut MCTs. This dynamic fusion is exceptionally high in glutamine, arginine, lysine, leucine and branch chain amino acids. Raw plant-based protein is an easily digestible nutrient-dense superfood, perfect for those who want to be healthy and fit. Find SunWarrior at Choices Market Yaletown, Vesta Whole Health and other retailers. www.rawelements.ca


 

tea box

Qi single estate teas

Qi single estate teas are inspired by ancient teachings of the Chinese. In Qi energy flow, food is medicine and medicine is food. Grown in the remote Yellow Mountain region of China, Qi organic teas are purchased directly from fair trade small farmers and can be traced back to the plant in the tea garden. Award-winning flavours: Detox Green tea, Spicy White tea and Golden Vanilla tea. Available in select natural health retailers in Vancouver like SPUD, Donald’s Market, Greens Organic Market and Sweet Cherubim.www.nu-tea.com

 

Demonstrators don V for Vendetta masks in Occupy Everywhere

article and photo by Geoff Olson

It’s an image you may have seen around lately. You might recognize the pale, goateed face with the ear-to-ear grin from the 2006 film V for Vendetta. To disguise both his identity and disfigurement, the central character wears a mask representing Guy Fawkes, a 17th century Englishman who plotted to blow up the Houses of Parliament.

From the cobbled streets of Madrid to the mirrored canyons of Manhattan, this grinning face is now a fixture in street protests. Demonstrators around the world are donning plastic masks inspired by the film. A report in the New York Times quotes Howard Beige, vice president of the New York-based Rubie’s Costume Co., who claims his company produces the item and sells more than 100,000 a year, 20 times more than its other masks.

A shadowy group of Internet activists, Anonymous, were first to employ the image of the V mask in their online communiqués. This widespread network of hacktivists captured media attention with their launch of an Iranian Green Party site, in response to Iran’s disputed 2009 election. Other Anonymous schemes included “Operation Payback,” a series of cyber attacks against Visa and MasterCard in 2010, for withdrawal of banking services to WikiLeaks. This past August, they targeted San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit after the organization attempted to block cell phone communications during a public protest against the shooting of a homeless man by a BART police officer.

Anonymous’ first major target, the Church of Scientology, was sparked by a video by church member Tom Cruise. In 2008, V-masked demonstrators appeared in street protests in London against the religious organization. Were the masked demonstrators members of the loosely affiliated hacking collective or just fellow travellers dog-piling on a very litigious cult? That’s the thing about masks – no one knows for sure. What we can say with some confidence is now everyone, from slacktivists to soccer moms, are wearing V masks in street protests.

So why V? How has this image attained so much visual currency, both online and off?

The V image dates back to a 1982-1985 comic book series by writer Alan Moore and artist David Lloyd. This dystopic tale, set in a future fascist Britain, begins with a young working class girl walking the streets of London after curfew. Desperate for money, Evey approaches a group of men in an attempt to prostitute herself. The men, who belong to the feared security police, threaten to rape and kill her. V arrives just in time to finish off the men and save Evey. He then whisks her to a nearby rooftop to witness his timed bombing of the Old Bailey, the London courthouse.

V’s mask, black cape and wide-brimmed hat are a period-piece nod to Britain’s first homegrown terrorist, Guy Fawkes. According to historians, Fawkes and a group of Catholic co-conspirators engineered their “Gunpowder Plot” to spark a revolution in England in 1605. V intends to stage a similar attack on Parliament, in an effort to spark revolution among the fearful masses.

Early in their film career, the Wachowski Brothers penned a screen adaptation of Moore’s comic book series. During postproduction of the second and last films of their Matrix trilogy, they returned to this project, soliciting James McTeigue for directorial duties. The all-star cast of the completed production included Natalie Portman as Evey and Hugo Weaving (Agent Smith in the Matrix) as the masked character, V.

The comic book V is an anarchist archangel of vengeance, with no reluctance to kill. The Hollywood V remains an anarchist, but he tries to avoid collateral damage as he seeks out his targets. It is left to the viewer to decide if V is a hero or a villain, sane or insane. “You’re a monster,” Evey says to him after discovering his campaign to kill those who took part in his internment and medical experimentation. “What they did to me was monstrous,” he replies from behind his mask.

In both versions, V lives underground in an abandoned, but lavishly decorated, subway cavern, complete with works of art stolen from the ‘Department of Censorship.’ He speaks in poetic monologues and sociological soundbites, going from mad to verse as he prepares breakfast or practises his swordsmanship against an empty suit of armour. “A revolution without dancing is a revolution not worth having,” he tells Evey, paraphrasing anarchist Emma Goldman. “People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people,” he adds, adapting a line from John Basil Barnhill.

In the film version, the US has collapsed into chaos, a victim of its own accidentally unleashed bioweapons. As fear spreads across an economically ravaged world, the British people respond by electing into power a fascist political party, Norsefire. The regime then sets out to ‘disappear’ enemies of the state, including the activist parents of the child Evey. Writer Alan Moore cleverly employed the Hobbesian metaphor of the state as a gigantic body. The police force is “The Nose,” the secret police “The Finger,” the visual surveillance branch is “The Eye” and the audio surveillance branch is “The Ear.” The media, in charge of broadcasting propaganda, is “The Mouth.”

Partway through the film (spoiler alert!), we learn 80,000 British lives were lost years ago in a virus outbreak. The virus was developed through medical experiments on social deviants and political dissidents at a detention centre that also held V. The head of “The Finger,” Creedy, turns out to have been responsible for the lethal outbreak and the resulting panic atmosphere that swept Norsefire to power. Completing this conspiratorial circle, a cure for the bio-attack virus has been developed by a pharmaceutical company with ties to Norsefire.

The film raises troubling issues about truth, justice and that Machiavellian puzzler: does the end ever justify the means? What is terrorism and who are the real terrorists? Just as the protestors’ V masks have leapt from colourful pages of an eighties comic book, today’s headlines seem to have been ripped out of Moore’s paranoiac, mid-eighties vision of widespread electronic surveillance, black sites where terrorism suspects are rendered and tortured without legal recourse, media-mediated mass fear, rampant corporate unaccountability and a global elite floating through life in a bubble of privilege.

In the film, V mails out thousands of Guy Fawkes masks across London in preparation for his final act of resistance/terrorism; the destruction of the empty Houses of Parliament on the evening of November 5, the anniversary of Guy Fawkes’ Gunpowder Plot. Tens of thousands of Londoners, emboldened by the chaos V has unleashed, don the masks and march toward the Parliament.

In the final scene, the people successfully face down the police without violence and witness Parliament’s destruction. They take off their masks, revealing the faces behind them. The idea and the people – thesis and antithesis – come together in a synthesis.

V himself remains a mystery in the film. His identity and survival don’t matter, he insists. It’s the idea he embodies, of free individuals living in mutual aid, which cannot die. “Beneath this mask, there is more than flesh,” V tells his nemesis in the film. “Beneath this mask, there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof.”

Evey offers a tender rebuttal to this seductive intellectualism. “I’ve witnessed firsthand the power of ideas. I’ve seen people kill in the name of them; and die defending them. But you cannot kiss an idea, cannot touch it or hold it. Ideas do not bleed; it cannot feel pain and it does not love. And it is not an idea that I miss, it is a man,” she says of V in a monologue at the close of the film.

By 2008, the V for Vendetta-inspired Guy Fawkes mask had become the default face of Anonymous. The organization’s monkey wrenching efforts extended to the 2011 Arab Spring, and their old-school overloading of Egyptian government fax machines in response to Mubarek’s crackdown on the Internet. “Egyptians referenced V for Vendetta more frequently than any other work of art,” observes Cairo activist Wael Khairy. “On the internet, Photoshop was used to alter Pharaoh Tutankhamen’s face into a Fawkes’ smile.”

There are dozens of videos on YouTube of computer-generated V’s, slowly intoning demands of Anonymous in a synthesized voice. The most recent videos are directed against the big banks, in support of Occupy Wall Street. What remains of Anonymous after an alleged series of arrests is probably like the Guy Fawkes mask – it is a placeholder, not for one identity, but for a persistent idea of V-like justice held by an unknown number of sympathizers across the world.

By late 2011, themes out of hacktivism began to merge with the above ground elements of the activist culture, such as the Vancouver-published Adbusters, which sparked the call to Occupy Wall Street. As it turns out, the “We Are the 99 Percent” meme has been one of the sharpest objects ever to come out of the media-jammers’ toolkit. It began as a riff on an analysis by economist Joseph Stiglitz of US income disparities – one percent owns 40 percent of private wealth – which was inverted into a figure showcasing the vast majority. Anonymous included the “We Are the 99 Percent” meme to online communiqués, propagandizing their solidarity with the masses. Adbusters kicked it up a further notch in visibility and Anonymous quickly endorsed the notion of Occupy Wall Street.

With social disparities on the rise in industrial democracies around the world, the 99 percent meme has gone global to the ‘Occupy Everywhere’ movement. It fits seamlessly with the 99 percent alluded to in the final scenes of V for Vendetta where the “restless many” peacefully confront the truncheon-wielding protectors of the “prosperous few.” The V mask now shows up in photos of protests of all kinds across the world, from Santiago to Seoul to Seattle.

The Hollywood V creates chaos in an attempt to spark a new order. Needless to say, the agenda of anyone wearing a V mask to a public protest is as cryptic as his or her identity. An undercover cop, an agent provocateur, a weekend activist with nightmares about facial recognition software, a comic-book fanboy – one size fits all. At the Occupy Vancouver event on October 15, about a dozen V’s sprinkled the crowd, from adults to kids. After approaching a few for a photograph, I felt slightly creeped out by the pale, grinning face – the same way clowns creep me out. The mask seems to carry a tacit reproach to power. As John F. Kennedy once said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

Critics insist a store-bought plastic mask endorsing revolutionary beliefs is a contradiction in terms. Especially considering that every V mask purchase makes a profit for one of the world’s largest media conglomerates, Time-Warner. Ironically, the company owns DC Comics, which published the Alan Moore-David Lloyd miniseries in the United States. It also owns Warner Brothers, which released the film adaptation. The vertically organized company “owns the rights to the image and receives a licensing fee for each mask sold,” according to a recent report in the New York Times.

The Times piece hints this contradiction delegitimizes Guy Fawkes-masked protestors. Yet it’s a trivial truth that almost anything anyone does is within the orbit of the military-industrial-financial-entertainment complex, including protesting against it. The marketing world is very good at capturing and repackaging dangerous dissent as safe hipster cool. Consider the iconic photo of Che Guevara in a black beret, which has gone from a dorm room poster to a T-shirt design to the soda drink Revolution. Perhaps the V for Vendetta mask will become another tiresome visual cliché as its visibility grows – a pop-culture meme emptied of its original meaning. Or perhaps it will retain its archetypal, Trickster-like power, taking on a darker or lighter aspect depending on the next stages of global activism.

Writer Allan Moore, unhappy with the film adaptation of V for Vendetta, had his name removed from the Wachowski brothers’ slick product. His collaborator, comic artist David Lloyd, was happier with the film and its social effects. He recently told the blog Comics Alliance that activists are “resisting oppression the best way they know how” by employing the image of his mask. He hoped the character V would continue to be a “symbol of protest for all those who feel they need to use it as such.”

 

The word “person” derives from the Latin “persona,” or mask. In Classical Greece, a Greek chorus was a group of masked performers who would stand on the side of the stage, commenting on the dramatic events in narration and song. “In many of these plays, the chorus expressed to the audience what the main characters could not say, such as their hidden fears or secrets. The chorus often provided other characters with the insight they needed,” according to Wikipedia.

You could say the ambiguous image of V performs a similar function in postmodern dissent, calling attention to fears and official secrets that are marginalized in mainstream discourse. The growing numbers of demonstrators wearing the V masks may be as much a symptom of our troubled times as a symbolic vector for change.

Perhaps one day, the plastic V mask will become a nostalgic artifact, a fondly remembered relic from the first time the restless many – masked and unmasked – peacefully rose up across the globe and demanded accountability from the prosperous few. With Occupation Everywhere, the template for unified global dissent is now out there. It’s been beta-tested in hundreds of cities across the world. Perhaps what the world witnessed on October 15 was the initial ripple, rather than the first wave.

As V said, you can’t kill an idea.

www.geoffolson.com

Social awakening

 

Social awakening

Occupy social consciousness
by Chris Zaporoski

 
speaker
Common Ground publisher speaks at Occupy Vancouver October 15, 2011. Photo by Patrik Parkes.

On a warm Friday night several weeks ago, I was sitting on a bench at English Bay, watching the stars shoot through the late summer sky. Many people were out that night – mature people strolling after dinner, romantic couples on the benches and, as usual, youth hanging out on the beach. I could hear distant conversations and people’s laughter. It was a nice relaxing end to another workweek. I checked the time – it was just past 10:30 PM.

Suddenly, flashing lights lit up the whole scene in front of me. Surprised, I turned my head to see a police car pulling quietly onto the main pathway leading to the beach. The car continued until it reached the seawall and then stopped. A group of elegantly dressed older men and women strolled by, obviously enjoying their seawall walk after dinner while the police car sat in the middle of the pathway with its emergency lights flashing. It was a bizarre, almost surreal scene. The quiet was broken by a voice coming from the car’s loudspeaker: “This is the Vancouver Police. This beach is now closed.”

I was stunned. There was nothing going on that could possibly explain that police car and the given order. There were no rowdy, drunken teenagers, no public disturbance and no noise. “What is that all about?” I asked my girlfriend who was equally as shocked. Thoughts were flashing through my head, but one kept repeating itself and I voiced it. “This sounds like a curfew.”

A curfew on Vancouver’s beaches?

The last time I experienced a curfew was some 30-years-ago during the martial law in Poland. The communist regime declared martial law to crack down on the nation-wide social revolt led by the Solidarity movement. Back then, I felt it was my duty and moral obligation to take a stand against the totalitarian regime in defence of what I believed to be fundamental human rights: the right to freedom, justice, truth and basic dignity. Because of my beliefs, I spent nearly a year in jail and stood trial by a military court. After the amnesty, as an “unwanted element,” I was allowed to leave the country with a one-way passport. This is how I arrived in Canada in search of freedom.

And here I was now in the heart of Vancouver’s peaceful West End, experiencing a curfew. But the most bizarre thing is that hardly anyone questions it, as if it were “normal.” Normal? Adult people are told to go home because of someone’s insane order not to allow the public on their own (public) beaches. If the police mandate is “to serve and protect,” my question is who are they serving and protecting?

As adults, we tend to lose the capacity to ask questions and challenge the status quo. When insanity becomes the norm, hardly anyone sees it as insanity. To most of us, it becomes “normal.” So here we are in the middle of Vancouver experiencing glimpses of what it would feel like to live in a totalitarian state.

The concept of totalitarianism was invented by Italian fascists. Some readers might object to the word “fascism” applied to the reality of socio-political life in today’s North America, but, as Franklin D. Roosevelt stated, “The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism – ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.” Doesn’t it sound exactly like the world we live in?

sign bearer on wall street
Occupy Wall Street (NYC) demonstrator. Photo by David Shankbone

Upon my arrival in North America, my first culture shock was linguistic. It wasn’t the language itself, but the idiom used to describe the worth of a person, such as “Bob is worth two million.” It was shocking to me that someone’s worth could be measured in dollars rather than in qualities like kindness, goodness, wisdom, talent, intelligence or their service to others. Hence, a millionaire is worth a million dollars, while a homeless person, for instance, is worth… I guess, nothing. Think about the social implications of that way of thinking. Someone might dismiss it as a purely linguistic phenomenon, but it is not just a “figure of speech.” The words and phrases we use reflect our definitions and our beliefs, which create our understanding of the world and determine our behaviour.

Human behaviour is governed by motivation. If we measure our worth by the status of our bank account and by how many possessions we have, those who are rich are “worthy” while the poor are simply “worthless.” If the only measure of one’s worth is the amount of accumulated money, in order to obtain that goal, anything goes. In a system where profit is the paramount motivation, one cannot help but see the world around them as a potential source of profit. People, animals, resources, our entire planet, are reduced to nothing more than a means to an end to be exploited for profit. Isn’t that what is happening?

The Earth is being raped, resources plundered and animals are exploited or exterminated. The majority of humanity lives in poverty and we who are lucky enough to live in a developed country are reduced to mere consumers, required only to perpetually feed the hungry ghost of profit.

My second culture shock came some 15-years-ago when I decided to end my corporate career. The reason was simple: I just couldn’t imagine sacrificing my dreams any longer in exchange for a steady pay cheque and the illusion of security. I was surprised at how many of my co-workers approached me, saying, “I wish I could do the same.” “Why don’t you?” I asked. But each of them had an excuse: debt, a mortgage, car payments, a benefits package or some other form of perceived benefit.

Shocked by how many people wished they could do the same, I was hit by the realization that they were slaves. Completely unaware, they were participating in the most subtle form of slavery – an economic slavery. And they always had a valid reason for accepting it as “normal.” After all, those jobs seemed to be guaranteed for a lifetime and based on that assumption, people planned their future. Fortunately, the reality check came a mere few years later. The company was sold and resold through a series of bizarre financial schemes involving billions of dollars and, eventually, the new corporate owner decided to outsource the work of the entire department to Asia. All of my former co-workers, including those who had spent decades creating profits for the company, were “not needed anymore” and lost their jobs.

This story is repeated throughout Canada, North America and the world. This is the world we live in. This is the world we have all created. Not “them” but all of us. It is not the creation of some conspiracy group; we all participate in this collective insanity. But the more insanity we encounter, the more wake up calls we experience. Some of them come from our own country. In 2003, the brilliant Canadian documentary The Corporation exposed the nature of corporations as destructive, psychopathic, socio-economic phenomena. The most recent CBC Doc Zone production dealing with the subject of the economic meltdown is entitled simply Meltdown and it takes it even further. More powerful and insightful than the Oscar-wining, highly acclaimed Inside Job, Meltdown exposes the global scale of the insanity. And of course, there is Michael Moore with his exposés.

As a human race, we are just beginning to wake up. Occupy Wall Street started the Occupy Movement, which is now spreading globally, offering glimpses of sanity and hope for the future. Some call it a “revolution,” but for those, I have a word of warning. Revolution means revolving, or turning around the wheel of power. It is the same old wheel of power, with someone on top and someone on the bottom. This is why every revolution throughout human history eventually led to the same outcome – the oppression of one by another. Ideologies change, but the mechanism of the power struggle remains intact; the once powerless become powerful and vice versa.

There are also angry voices demanding “justice” as if putting a few bankers in jail could solve the root cause of the problem. Common criminals, no matter what the colours of their collars, ought to be held accountable for their crimes, yet for those who advocate the idea of vengeance, remember the words of Gandhi, the greatest leader of non-violent civil disobedience in the history of mankind: “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” And indeed we are blind if we don’t see the insanity of repeating the same old patterns of unconscious behaviour. Noam Chomsky once said, “It’s a fair assumption that every human being, real human beings, flesh and blood ones, not corporations, but every flesh and blood human being is a moral person. You know, we’ve got the same genes, we’re more or less the same, but our nature, the nature of humans, allows all kinds of behaviour. I mean, every one of us under some circumstances could be a gas chamber attendant or a saint.”

It is easy to be angry, point fingers and seek vengeance. It is much harder to see the reality of the problem. Those “circumstances” Chomsky talks about are nothing more than our collective agreement on what is acceptable and what is not. Such a collective agreement allowed for the creation of monstrosities such as the Third Reich and the Holocaust. The same collective agreement allows for the existence of the current system. No matter how corrupt and abused our democracy is, it is still democracy. We live in a democratic society. It’s not “us” versus “them,” but we are all responsible because we allowed the corruption and abuse to exist. Our individual and collective compliance allows for the insanity to perpetuate itself. Our silence and obedience are the true measures of our passive participation. They show the level of our unconsciousness.

How unconscious we can become is best portrayed by Robert Maresca and his wife Diane of West Islip, New York, who just applied to the US Patent and Trademark office to trademark the “Occupy Wall Street” slogan. Their intent is to sell sweatshirts, T-shirts, bumper stickers, among other merchandise. According to CNN, Maresca said, “I’m no marketing genius, but when you got something that’s across 50 states, it’s a brand now.” He even offered to sell the trademark to Occupy Wall Street members, if they wanted it, for just one dollar, after they paid his expenses. The problem is that neither the Marescas nor their lawyer sees anything wrong with that. While people at Wall Street stand up for justice, freedom and human dignity, others are trying to make a buck on it. This is how corrupt in unconsciousness our own minds can become.

On October 25, in a violent crackdown of Occupy Oakland by riot police, Scott Olsen, a young ex-marine, was the most seriously injured. The man survived two tours in Iraq and returned home safely only to be shot in the head with a police projectile in his own country, by his own police. The incident that followed shortly afterward is even more appalling. As Scott lay bleeding and motionless on the ground, video footage clearly shows that, while other protesters rushed in to help Scott, a policeman from behind a barrier deliberately threw a flash or tear gas grenade into the crowd near the injured man. This is beyond comprehension – an act of psychopathic insanity that calls for a public outcry. It is no wonder none of the mainstream US news agencies covered the story, but it made headlines around the world.

At the same time, Scott’s fellow US Marine posted a photo of himself on the Washington Post’s blog site, holding a picture of the bleeding man with a sign bearing the symbol for the US Marines and the words: “You did this to my brother.”

I believe it is the insanity of the government itself and its “law” enforcement agencies that invite revolution, through committing acts of violence against peaceful demonstrators who exercise their fundamental rights, promised and guaranteed by the Constitution.

Let’s all pray for Scott Olsen’s safe recovery and send him our love. And kudos to Keith Olbermann and his Countdown on Current TV. Olbermann is the only American high-profile journalist who, from the very beginning, covered the Occupy Movement. See his daily program at http://www.youtube.com/user/Current

The alternative to revolution is evolution. It is growth through transformation, exactly what humanity needs – to leave behind the old dysfunctional patterns and structures and evolve to the new level of consciousness. And that’s what the Occupy Movement represents to me. It is our chance to change the way we do things, an experiment in real democracy. Michael Moore frequently visited and addressed Occupy Wall Street. When asked what advice he had for the people down there, he said, “I don’t have any advice. I’d rather listen.”

This is real democracy at work. No more political parties, lobby groups and leaders manipulating masses and swaying opinions one way or another, but the system allowing for every voice to be heard. No more pushing one’s agenda on others, but an open discussion and consensus. It is the way of the future.

In the first weeks of Occupy Wall Street, Deepak Chopra was allowed to address the General Assembly. Instead of making political speeches, he invited everyone to do a short meditation. I now invite you, dear reader, to participate in the meditation he led: “Put your hand on your heart and just ask yourself internally, ‘What kind of world do I want to live in?’ And listen. Do it now. And now ask yourself, ‘How can I make that happen. How can I make that happen from the place of love, compassion, joy and equanimity?’ Simple anger will only perpetuate what already is out there. It was created by greed and fear. We have to go beyond that and come from the place of compassion, centred equanimity and creativity. Once again, ask yourself, ‘How can I be the change I want to see in the world?’”

 

 

Social awakening – Occupy social consciousness

by Chris Zaporoski

Common Ground publisher speaks at Occupy Vancouver October 15, 2011. Photo by Patrik Parkes.

On a warm Friday night several weeks ago, I was sitting on a bench at English Bay, watching the stars shoot through the late summer sky. Many people were out that night – mature people strolling after dinner, romantic couples on the benches and, as usual, youth hanging out on the beach. I could hear distant conversations and people’s laughter. It was a nice relaxing end to another workweek. I checked the time – it was just past 10:30 PM.

Suddenly, flashing lights lit up the whole scene in front of me. Surprised, I turned my head to see a police car pulling quietly onto the main pathway leading to the beach. The car continued until it reached the seawall and then stopped. A group of elegantly dressed older men and women strolled by, obviously enjoying their seawall walk after dinner while the police car sat in the middle of the pathway with its emergency lights flashing. It was a bizarre, almost surreal scene. The quiet was broken by a voice coming from the car’s loudspeaker: “This is the Vancouver Police. This beach is now closed.”

I was stunned. There was nothing going on that could possibly explain that police car and the given order. There were no rowdy, drunken teenagers, no public disturbance and no noise. “What is that all about?” I asked my girlfriend who was equally as shocked. Thoughts were flashing through my head, but one kept repeating itself and I voiced it. “This sounds like a curfew.”

A curfew on Vancouver’s beaches?

The last time I experienced a curfew was some 30-years-ago during the martial law in Poland. The communist regime declared martial law to crack down on the nation-wide social revolt led by the Solidarity movement. Back then, I felt it was my duty and moral obligation to take a stand against the totalitarian regime in defence of what I believed to be fundamental human rights: the right to freedom, justice, truth and basic dignity. Because of my beliefs, I spent nearly a year in jail and stood trial by a military court. After the amnesty, as an “unwanted element,” I was allowed to leave the country with a one-way passport. This is how I arrived in Canada in search of freedom.

And here I was now in the heart of Vancouver’s peaceful West End, experiencing a curfew. But the most bizarre thing is that hardly anyone questions it, as if it were “normal.” Normal? Adult people are told to go home because of someone’s insane order not to allow the public on their own (public) beaches. If the police mandate is “to serve and protect,” my question is who are they serving and protecting?

As adults, we tend to lose the capacity to ask questions and challenge the status quo. When insanity becomes the norm, hardly anyone sees it as insanity. To most of us, it becomes “normal.” So here we are in the middle of Vancouver experiencing glimpses of what it would feel like to live in a totalitarian state.

The concept of totalitarianism was invented by Italian fascists. Some readers might object to the word “fascism” applied to the reality of socio-political life in today’s North America, but, as Franklin D. Roosevelt stated, “The first truth is that the liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism – ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.” Doesn’t it sound exactly like the world we live in?

sign bearer on wall street
Occupy Wall Street (NYC) demonstrator. Photo by David Shankbone

Upon my arrival in North America, my first culture shock was linguistic. It wasn’t the language itself, but the idiom used to describe the worth of a person, such as “Bob is worth two million.” It was shocking to me that someone’s worth could be measured in dollars rather than in qualities like kindness, goodness, wisdom, talent, intelligence or their service to others. Hence, a millionaire is worth a million dollars, while a homeless person, for instance, is worth… I guess, nothing. Think about the social implications of that way of thinking. Someone might dismiss it as a purely linguistic phenomenon, but it is not just a “figure of speech.” The words and phrases we use reflect our definitions and our beliefs, which create our understanding of the world and determine our behaviour.

Human behaviour is governed by motivation. If we measure our worth by the status of our bank account and by how many possessions we have, those who are rich are “worthy” while the poor are simply “worthless.” If the only measure of one’s worth is the amount of accumulated money, in order to obtain that goal, anything goes. In a system where profit is the paramount motivation, one cannot help but see the world around them as a potential source of profit. People, animals, resources, our entire planet, are reduced to nothing more than a means to an end to be exploited for profit. Isn’t that what is happening?

The Earth is being raped, resources plundered and animals are exploited or exterminated. The majority of humanity lives in poverty and we who are lucky enough to live in a developed country are reduced to mere consumers, required only to perpetually feed the hungry ghost of profit.

My second culture shock came some 15-years-ago when I decided to end my corporate career. The reason was simple: I just couldn’t imagine sacrificing my dreams any longer in exchange for a steady pay cheque and the illusion of security. I was surprised at how many of my co-workers approached me, saying, “I wish I could do the same.” “Why don’t you?” I asked. But each of them had an excuse: debt, a mortgage, car payments, a benefits package or some other form of perceived benefit.

Shocked by how many people wished they could do the same, I was hit by the realization that they were slaves. Completely unaware, they were participating in the most subtle form of slavery – an economic slavery. And they always had a valid reason for accepting it as “normal.” After all, those jobs seemed to be guaranteed for a lifetime and based on that assumption, people planned their future. Fortunately, the reality check came a mere few years later. The company was sold and resold through a series of bizarre financial schemes involving billions of dollars and, eventually, the new corporate owner decided to outsource the work of the entire department to Asia. All of my former co-workers, including those who had spent decades creating profits for the company, were “not needed anymore” and lost their jobs.

This story is repeated throughout Canada, North America and the world. This is the world we live in. This is the world we have all created. Not “them” but all of us. It is not the creation of some conspiracy group; we all participate in this collective insanity. But the more insanity we encounter, the more wake up calls we experience. Some of them come from our own country. In 2003, the brilliant Canadian documentary The Corporation exposed the nature of corporations as destructive, psychopathic, socio-economic phenomena. The most recent CBC Doc Zone production dealing with the subject of the economic meltdown is entitled simply Meltdown and it takes it even further. More powerful and insightful than the Oscar-wining, highly acclaimed Inside Job, Meltdown exposes the global scale of the insanity. And of course, there is Michael Moore with his exposés.

As a human race, we are just beginning to wake up. Occupy Wall Street started the Occupy Movement, which is now spreading globally, offering glimpses of sanity and hope for the future. Some call it a “revolution,” but for those, I have a word of warning. Revolution means revolving, or turning around the wheel of power. It is the same old wheel of power, with someone on top and someone on the bottom. This is why every revolution throughout human history eventually led to the same outcome – the oppression of one by another. Ideologies change, but the mechanism of the power struggle remains intact; the once powerless become powerful and vice versa.

There are also angry voices demanding “justice” as if putting a few bankers in jail could solve the root cause of the problem. Common criminals, no matter what the colours of their collars, ought to be held accountable for their crimes, yet for those who advocate the idea of vengeance, remember the words of Gandhi, the greatest leader of non-violent civil disobedience in the history of mankind: “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.” And indeed we are blind if we don’t see the insanity of repeating the same old patterns of unconscious behaviour. Noam Chomsky once said, “It’s a fair assumption that every human being, real human beings, flesh and blood ones, not corporations, but every flesh and blood human being is a moral person. You know, we’ve got the same genes, we’re more or less the same, but our nature, the nature of humans, allows all kinds of behaviour. I mean, every one of us under some circumstances could be a gas chamber attendant or a saint.”

It is easy to be angry, point fingers and seek vengeance. It is much harder to see the reality of the problem. Those “circumstances” Chomsky talks about are nothing more than our collective agreement on what is acceptable and what is not. Such a collective agreement allowed for the creation of monstrosities such as the Third Reich and the Holocaust. The same collective agreement allows for the existence of the current system. No matter how corrupt and abused our democracy is, it is still democracy. We live in a democratic society. It’s not “us” versus “them,” but we are all responsible because we allowed the corruption and abuse to exist. Our individual and collective compliance allows for the insanity to perpetuate itself. Our silence and obedience are the true measures of our passive participation. They show the level of our unconsciousness.

How unconscious we can become is best portrayed by Robert Maresca and his wife Diane of West Islip, New York, who just applied to the US Patent and Trademark office to trademark the “Occupy Wall Street” slogan. Their intent is to sell sweatshirts, T-shirts, bumper stickers, among other merchandise. According to CNN, Maresca said, “I’m no marketing genius, but when you got something that’s across 50 states, it’s a brand now.” He even offered to sell the trademark to Occupy Wall Street members, if they wanted it, for just one dollar, after they paid his expenses. The problem is that neither the Marescas nor their lawyer sees anything wrong with that. While people at Wall Street stand up for justice, freedom and human dignity, others are trying to make a buck on it. This is how corrupt in unconsciousness our own minds can become.

On October 25, in a violent crackdown of Occupy Oakland by riot police, Scott Olsen, a young ex-marine, was the most seriously injured. The man survived two tours in Iraq and returned home safely only to be shot in the head with a police projectile in his own country, by his own police. The incident that followed shortly afterward is even more appalling. As Scott lay bleeding and motionless on the ground, video footage clearly shows that, while other protesters rushed in to help Scott, a policeman from behind a barrier deliberately threw a flash or tear gas grenade into the crowd near the injured man. This is beyond comprehension – an act of psychopathic insanity that calls for a public outcry. It is no wonder none of the mainstream US news agencies covered the story, but it made headlines around the world.

At the same time, Scott’s fellow US Marine posted a photo of himself on the Washington Post’s blog site, holding a picture of the bleeding man with a sign bearing the symbol for the US Marines and the words: “You did this to my brother.”

I believe it is the insanity of the government itself and its “law” enforcement agencies that invite revolution, through committing acts of violence against peaceful demonstrators who exercise their fundamental rights, promised and guaranteed by the Constitution.

Let’s all pray for Scott Olsen’s safe recovery and send him our love. And kudos to Keith Olbermann and his Countdown on Current TV. Olbermann is the only American high-profile journalist who, from the very beginning, covered the Occupy Movement. See his daily program at http://www.youtube.com/user/Current

The alternative to revolution is evolution. It is growth through transformation, exactly what humanity needs – to leave behind the old dysfunctional patterns and structures and evolve to the new level of consciousness. And that’s what the Occupy Movement represents to me. It is our chance to change the way we do things, an experiment in real democracy. Michael Moore frequently visited and addressed Occupy Wall Street. When asked what advice he had for the people down there, he said, “I don’t have any advice. I’d rather listen.”

This is real democracy at work. No more political parties, lobby groups and leaders manipulating masses and swaying opinions one way or another, but the system allowing for every voice to be heard. No more pushing one’s agenda on others, but an open discussion and consensus. It is the way of the future.

In the first weeks of Occupy Wall Street, Deepak Chopra was allowed to address the General Assembly. Instead of making political speeches, he invited everyone to do a short meditation. I now invite you, dear reader, to participate in the meditation he led: “Put your hand on your heart and just ask yourself internally, ‘What kind of world do I want to live in?’ And listen. Do it now. And now ask yourself, ‘How can I make that happen. How can I make that happen from the place of love, compassion, joy and equanimity?’ Simple anger will only perpetuate what already is out there. It was created by greed and fear. We have to go beyond that and come from the place of compassion, centred equanimity and creativity. Once again, ask yourself, ‘How can I be the change I want to see in the world?’”

STAR WISE: November 2011

STAR WISE: November 2011 – by Mac McLaughlin

The Sun moves through tropical Scorpio from October 23 to November 22. Ruled by fiery Mars and co-ruled by the deep and mysterious Pluto, we find Scorpio natives are naturally inclined towards leadership roles and power positions. It’s never halfway; it’s either all the way or no way with Scorpio. There are some interesting totems associated with this sign, the first being the serpent, or scorpion. This one says, “Sting me, I sting you back.” Revenge, dominance, control, manipulation, violence, chaos and death are their game if unindividuated. The phoenix is probably the best known symbol of Scorpio and it implies the awesome regenerative and healing power that many Scorpios possess. Out of the ashes, a new life form is created. Where many give up, usually Scorpio is just getting warmed up. Researchers, scientists, doctors and surgeons and others that may literally transform your life come under the heading of this sign.

The eagle is the next symbol of Scorpio and it represents the purity and spiritual heights that can be attained for no other flies as close to the sun as this regal bird. The eagle-type Scorpios are more likely to be the ones working quietly behind the scenes, ensconced deeply in their studies, with no time for pomp, strut and ceremony.

We might ponder why these folks are so intense about all that they do and their intentions, whether in the light or darkness. In ancient times, the Sun’s passage through this sector of the sky signalled its death and it would be resurrected again in the early springtime. The cycle of growth has seemingly stopped and death and decay set into place refurbishing the soil for the next round of life’s activities. Beyond anything and everything we know, the life force is the most powerful phenomena and all of life will struggle valiantly to the very last breath in order to keep it. Scorpio types are born into this energy and once focused and directed, their power of concentration, amalgamated with their dynamic will power, produces some of the most remarkable and memorable people on the planet, for good or bad.

Being a fixed water sign, it is often difficult for Scorpios to effect change in their own lives. Learning to surrender to the will of God and acquiescing to the universal plan we have crafted for ourselves in our previous incarnations is the healing path for all those that suffer. Scorpio is an old soul and definitely on its way home after its lengthy Earthly sojourns.

ARIES (March 21 – April 19)
Mars forms a grand triangle with Jupiter and Pluto mid-month and with Mars moving through Virgo, you will be very busy. You’re able to put it all together, though, as you organize and plan for your future through a steady application of your willpower.

 

TAURUS (April 20 – May 21)
The full moon on November 10 takes place in your sign bringing important revelations. The moon travels through the nakshatra (star group) named Bharani and its shakti (power) is to take things away. Go with the flow and let go of whatever.

 

GEMINI (May 22 – June 20)
Scattered hither and yon seeking treasures of the intellect, Gemini natives are ever curious, eternally restless and compelled to constantly seek that which is to be known and discovered. Romance beckons thee along with possible controversy.

 

CANCER (June 21 – July 22)
The full moon on November 10 will help illuminate your understanding as to where you stand with others, such as a sweetheart, friend or work associate. Matters related to home and family intensify and it might not be negative. A busy autumn is predicted.

 

LEO (July 23 – August 22)
Career and home activities increase dynamically. You must find the balance and live within it. Earning potential increases, but does it mean freedom or drudgery? A sacrifice of sorts could be the remedy. Very good communication opportunities present themselves in early November.

 

VIRGO (August 23 – September 22)
Mars visits Virgo in the last three weeks of November. You will be busy, productive and constructive. Keep in mind that the down side of Mars energy is accidents and injuries if we overstep our abilities or let frustration get the best of us.

 

LIBRA (September 23 – October 22)
Saturn continues his sojourn through your sign, as he helps you to polish and refine what you’re all about. It is marriage or divorce time, as we marry that which we love and divorce what is no longer worthy. It’s all good.

 

SCORPIO (October 23 – November 21)
The full moon on November 10 is important, as it will bring up what is needed most. The moon travels through Bharani the nakshatra (star group) that has the power to take things away. It is a time of intense internal perusal.

 

SAGITTARIUS (November 22 – December 21)
Mercury and Venus combine in your sign throughout most of the month, enhancing life in many ways. Romantic and intellectual activities keep you on the move, happily so. The solar eclipse on November 24 in Sagittarius will herald a series of important changes.

 

CAPRICORN (December 22 – January 19)
Mars and Jupiter cast fine energy into your sign indicating a powerful and active time in which you can truly accomplish all that you wish. Be careful what you wish for though, as it could take too much of your time and energy.

 

AQUARIUS (January 20 – February 19)
The full moon on November 10 illuminates your solar houses ruling career, family and real estate. Speaking of real estate, your inner state of consciousness may need some refreshing and now is the time to do so. Life amps up and all kinds of people pop up.

 

PISCES (February 20 – March 20)
Mars moves through your opposite sign Virgo prompting action and reaction. Travel and romance houses are hot as well. Your career sector gets a boost and you should be competitive. Intellectual stimulation and a hunger to learn and discover propel you along.

Mac McLaughlin has been a practising, professional astrologer for more than four decades. His popular Straight Stars column ran in Vancouver’s largest weekly newspaper for 11 years.
Email mac@macsstars.com or call 604-731-1109.

Wall Street conversation

SCIENCE MATTERS by David Suzuki

I’m not the only one unhappy with economic systems based on constant growth and endlessly increasing exploitation of finite resources – systems that concentrate wealth in the hands of a few while so many people struggle.

Beginning on September 17, protests spread from New York to a growing number of cities across the United States, Europe and Canada, in a movement dubbed “Occupy Wall Street.” It’s interesting that those credited with spurring the movement did so with a single question: “What is our one demand?” The question was first posed in my hometown of Vancouver by Adbusters magazine. Editor Kalle Lasn said the campaign was launched as an invitation to act more than an attempt to get an answer. Focusing on a single demand may or may not be a useful exercise, but the conversation itself is necessary.

Why have governments spent trillions of dollars in taxpayers’ money to bail out financial institutions, many of which fought any notion of government regulation or social assistance while doing nothing for people who had life savings wiped out or lost homes through foreclosure? And why have governments not at least demanded that the institutions demonstrate some ecological and social responsibility in return?

Why do developed nations still give tax breaks to the wealthiest few while children go hungry and working people and the unemployed see wages, benefits and opportunities dwindle? Why are we rapidly exploiting finite resources and destroying precious natural systems for the sake of short-term profit and unsustainable economic growth?

Why does our economic system place a higher value on disposable and often unnecessary goods and services than on the things we really need to survive and be healthy, like clean air, clean water and productive soil? Sure, there’s some contradiction in protesters carrying iPhones while railing against the consumer system. But this is not just about making personal changes and sacrifices; it’s about questioning our place on this planet.

In less than a century, the human population has grown exponentially, from 1.5 to seven billion. That’s been matched by rapid growth in technology and products, resource exploitation and knowledge. The pace and manner of development have led to a reliance on fossil fuels, to the extent that much of our infrastructure supports products such as cars and their fuels.

It may seem like there’s no hope for change, but we have to remember that most of these developments are recent and that humans are capable of innovation, creativity and foresight. I don’t know if the Occupy Wall Street protests will lead to anything. Surely, there will be backlash. And although I wouldn’t compare these protests to those in the Middle East, they all show that, when people have had enough of inequality, of the negative and destructive consequences of decisions made by people in power, we have a responsibility to come together and speak out.

The course of human history is constantly changing. It’s up to all of us to join the conversation to help steer it to a better path than the one we are on. Maybe our one demand should be of ourselves: Care enough to do something.

Written with contributions from David Suzuki Foundation Terrestrial Conservation and Science Program director Faisal Moola and biologist Jeff Wells. Learn more at www.davidsuzuki.org

Feds set to contaminate food supply with GM foods

by Lucy Sharratt

The Canadian government is proposing to allow the contamination of our food supply with genetically engineered foods that have not been approved for safe eating in Canada. This is not a joke or an exaggeration. Agriculture Canada has organized “stakeholder” consultations on what it calls “Low Level Presence” and has opened a comment period until November 25.

The Canadian government wants to allow 0.1 percent (or higher) of our food to be contaminated with genetically modified (GM) foods that have not been approved by Health Canada for safe human consumption. The GM foods will have been approved for safety in at least one other country, but not yet evaluated as safe by our own regulators. The federal government calls it “Low Level Presence” (LLP) and argues this “low level” of contamination from unapproved GM foods is not harmful. But how can it be sure? And why would our government want to do this?

Grain traders in Canada want the easy flow of Canadian commodities around the world, but pesky GM contamination keeps shutting down our global markets. Currently, Canada has “zero-tolerance” for contamination of our food supply by GM foods that have not been approved by Health Canada. This is obviously sound public health and safety policy, but our zero-tolerance is getting in the way of the Minister of Agriculture’s efforts to convince other countries to accept our GM contaminated food. The majority of countries worldwide have not approved any of the GM foods we produce. The argument is if Canada has a zero-tolerance policy, how can we ask other countries to change their zero-tolerance policies and accept GM contamination from Canada? Agriculture Canada says we need to be the first country in the world to accept this type of GM contamination so we can ask our trading partners to do the same.

The federal government says it will look at the regulatory system of the country where the GM food in question is approved and decide if it trusts that system. Additionally, if a corporation has already asked for safety approval in Canada and has submitted its data, even if Health Canada has not yet looked at it, the government can decide to accept contamination from that GM food. There are three slightly different “proposals” for how this “Low Level Presence” could be introduced, but all of them mean the same thing: unapproved GM food on grocery store shelves.

With LLP, the Canadian government is proposing to ignore its own system for safety evaluation of GM foods, a system that is widely criticized as inadequate, but which at least requires foods be declared as safe before we eat them. Legalizing contamination from unsafe GM foods is the end of any pretence from our government that it cares about the health and safety of Canadians when it comes to genetically modified foods. Clearly, the government’s trade agenda trumps safety.

According to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, “Canadian consumers enjoy one of the safest food safety systems in the world” and LLP consultation documents note “Food safety is a high priority for the Government of Canada.” However, our government has now decided it does not necessarily need to evaluate the safety of all the GM food we eat. The question now is will we let this happen?

Lucy Sharratt is the coordinator for the Canadian Biotechnology Network (CBAN). www.cban.ca

Canadian Health Food Association Notes

Winner of the CHFA Hall of Fame Award: Thomas Greither, president of Flora Manufacturing and Distributing Ltd.

In the October issue of Common Ground, we featured a special editorial supplement representing a call to protect our natural health products. Various industry stakeholders shared their perspectives on the serious impact that Health Canada’s Natural Health Products Directorate regulations are having on the industry. See the complete editorial feature at www.commonground.ca (Issue #243, October).

The Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA) was also invited to participate, but we received their response after our October press deadline. The CHFA’s editorial contribution is below.

The Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA) is Canada’s largest national trade association dedicated to the natural health and organic products industries. With a membership that includes over 1,000 suppliers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers, CHFA actively represents the industries that contribute five billion to the Canadian economy.

With over 70 percent of Canadians using natural health products (NHPs), CHFA is also proud to recognize November as National Health Food Month, an annual initiative that shines a spotlight on the demonstrated benefits of natural health products and organic food. Health Food Month serves as a reminder to Canadians that natural health products and organic foods are safe and effective, federally regulated and an integral part of promoting and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

All natural health products must undergo a pre-market review before they may be sold in Canada. This process requires that evidence supporting the safety, efficacy or any claims made and quality of the product be submitted to the Natural Health Products Directorate for assessment in order to be licensed. Canadians can identify products that have been licensed for sale in Canada by looking for the eight-digit Natural Product Number (NPN), Exemption Number (EN) or Homeopathic Medicine Number (DIN-HM) on the label.

Licensing becomes increasingly important when considering the number of Canadians who use natural health products on a daily basis. The unfortunate reality is that many don’t realize, and often take for granted, the threats to the availability of these products. Government legislation defines natural health products as a subset of drugs, which can be confusing for consumers, policy makers and the media.

The longstanding legislative priority for CHFA has been to remove natural health products as a subset of drugs under the existing Food and Drugs Act. Those involved in the industry know this request has remained constant for over a decade. In the late 1990s, CHFA and the industry were very active with educating key government representatives about the uniqueness of natural health products.

Following this, the Standing Committee on Health released a report in 1998 stating natural health products were neither foods nor drugs and the Food and Drugs Act should be modified accordingly. Thirteen years later, CHFA is still working to see this recommendation applied. CHFA continues to work with the government ensuring the collective voice of the industry is heard and consumer safety remains a priority.

To stay informed or to become involved, we invite you to join the conversation by friending us on facebook, following us on Twitter or visiting our website at www.chfa.ca

Editor’s note: Natural health products have only recently come under the jurisdiction of drugs via Health Canada’s recently formed Natural Health Products Directorate (NHPD). Natural health products were under the food category until 2004, when they were more accessible to the public.


CHFA People of Excellence 2011Award winners

As part of the Conference program at Expo East last month in Toronto, CHFA took the opportunity to recognize the achievements of member companies and their employees who have made a difference to their businesses and the industry.

This year’s recipient of the CHFA Hall of Fame Award is Thomas Greither, president of Flora Manufacturing and Distributing Ltd. Thomas was recognized with this achievement for his many years of hard work as well as his impressive contribution and dedication to the growth and development of the natural health and organic products industry.

Additional award winners

CHFA Brock Elliott Award For Excellence in Retailing – Nature’s Emporium

Preferred Nutrition Award for Excellence in Retail Sales – Teresa D’Addario, Nature’s Emporium

Jack Gahler Memorial Awards for Excellence – Field: Neil Jacobs, Peak Performance Products Inc. Inside: Shelagh Bailey, Preferred Nutrition

Gordon Storie Memorial Bursary – Darcy McConnell, Vita Health Fresh Market

CHFA Supplier of Excellence Award – Body Plus Nutritional Products Inc.

CHFA Spotlight Award in the Category of Innovation – Retailer: Nature’s Emporium. Supplier: Genuine Health

CHFA Exhibit Awards – Large: Nature’s Way. Medium: Theobroma Chocolat. Small: North American Hemp Company

People’s Choice Award – Giddy Yoyo Chocolate

Help me to change the world

by don Miguel Ruiz and don Jose Ruiz with Janet Mills

Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements. Photo by Isabelle Oliver.

I invite you to participate in a new dream for humanity, one in which all of us can live in harmony, truth, and love. In this dream, people of all religions and all philosophies are not just welcome, but respected. It doesn’t matter whether you believe in Christ, Moses, Allah, Brahma, Buddha or any other being or master; everybody is welcome to share this dream. Each one of us has our own beliefs, our own point of view. There are billions of different points of view, but it’s the same light, the same force of lifebehind each one of us.

If you feel the truth in these words, then I invite you to open your heart and help me to change the world. Of course, the very first question is how are you going to change the world? The answer is easy. By changing your world. When I ask you to help me to change the world, I’m not talking about planet Earth. I’m referring to the world that exists in your head. You will not change the world if you don’t change your own world first. The change begins with you. You will change the world by loving yourself, by enjoying life, by making your personal world a dream of heaven. And I ask you for your help because you are the only one who can make this change.

If you decide that you want to help me change the world, the easiest way is by practising five agreements: Be impeccable with your word. Don’t take anything personally. Don’t make assumptions. Always do your best. Be skeptical, but learn to listen. These are the tools to change your world, to change the world, and they are nothing but pure common sense. If you practise these five agreements, if you make them your way of life, there won’t be any more war in your head. There won’t be any more war with your loved ones. There will be peace.

By adopting these Five Agreements, your world becomes better and you want to share your happiness with the people you love. But changing the world is not about changing the secondary characters in your life story. If you want to change the world, the way to do it is by changing the main character. When you change the main character, you change the message that you deliver to yourself. Then just like magic, all the secondary characters start to change, because the message that you deliver to them changes.

You deliver a message every time you speak. The question is do you deliver the truth or do you deliver lies? When the message you deliver comes from truth and love, you are happier. And just by being happier, everyone benefits because your joy, your happiness, your heaven are contagious. When you are happy, the people around you are happy too and it inspires them to change their own world.

Every human uses the world to deliver a message. The message we deliver is our legacy and our legacy can be love; it can be joy; it can be happiness. When we were children, we received a wonderful world and it’s our turn to offer our children and grandchildren a planet where they can live as wonderfully and as well as we do now. We can stop destroying our planet; we can stop destroying one another. We are meant to love one another, not to hate one another. Let’s stop believing that our differences make us superior or inferior to one another. Let’s not believe that lie. Let’s not be afraid that our different colours make us different people. Who cares? It’s just another lie.

We don’t have to believe all the lies and superstitions that control our lives. We can return to the truth and be messengers of truth. It’s not true that we come to this planet to suffer. This beautiful planet Earth is not a valley of tears. This is the time to end all the lies and superstitions that are not helping anybody. The legacy that we leave to our children and grandchildren can be magnificent. We can change our whole way of thinking and show them how to have a love affair with life. Our new way of thinking can replace all the lies and take us to a wonderful place to live life.

Wherever I go, I hear people say we come here with a mission, that we have something to do or transcend in this life. I believe that we come here with a mission, but our mission is not really to transcend anything. The mission we have is to make ourselves happy. The “how” could be millions of different ways of doing what we love to do, but the mission of our life is to enjoy every single moment of our life. Sooner or later, our physical bodies will no longer exist. We only have a few sunrises, a few sunsets, a few full moons that we can enjoy. This is our time to be alive, to be fully present, to enjoy ourselves, to enjoy one another.

Humans can live in harmony. I know we have our differences, but we can respect one another’s differences. We can agree to work together, knowing that each of us has our own point of view. It’s incredible what we can do if we really want to do it. All we need is to be aware of what we are doing, and to return to the authenticity we were born with. Help me to change the world is an invitation to be authentic, to follow your heart, to be free of superstitions and lies. And I’m not asking you to try to change the world. Don’t try; just do it. Take the action today.

In the last century, science and technology have grown so fast, but psychology has stayed far behind. It’s time for psychology to catch up with science and technology. It’s time to change our beliefs about the human mind; what I see right now is almost an emergency because with computers and the Internet the way they are right now, lies can go all around the world very quickly and get completely out of control. The time is coming when humans will no longer believe in lies. We begin with ourselves, but the goal is to change the entire humanity. But how can we change the entire humanity if we don’t change our own world first? Of course, it’s not easy to separate, because in reality we have to do both at the same time.

Then let’s make a difference in this world. By adopting the Five Agreements, we create peace in our head, in our own world and thereby help to create peace in the entire world. How long will it take for the entire world to change? Two, or three or four generations? The truth is that we don’t care how long it will take. We are not in a hurry, but we have no time to lose. Help me to change the world.

Excerpted and adapted from The Fifth Agreement © Miguel Angel Ruiz, M.D., Jose Luis Ruiz and Janet Mills. Reprinted by permission of Amber-Allen Publishing, Inc. 
November 19: See Don Miguel Ruiz in Vancouver. Musical guest Kuba Oms. Unity of Vancouver, 5840 Oak St. Tickets at www.kubaoms.eventbrite.com

A conversation with Wade Davis

What we stand to lose in “Beautiful British Columbia”

interview by Sonya Weir

Wade Davis is a Canadian anthropologist, ethnobotanist, author and photographer whose work has focused on indigenous cultures. In 2009, he was chosen to be the speaker for the Massey Lectures for his publication The Wayfinders. More recently, the National Geographic Society named him as one of the “Explorers for the Millennium.” Special Event November 10: Wade will discuss his newest book, Into the Silence, The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest at a special event hosted by the Vancouver International Writers Festival; 7:30PM, St. Andrews Wesley United Church, 1022 Nelson St, $21 (plus service charges). Call 604-629-8849 for tickets or visit vancouvertix.ca

Sonya Weir: How did you discover you wanted to work with indigenous cultures?

Wade Davis: I was always intrigued with different cultures. I grew up in Montreal at a time when the French and the English didn’t speak to each another. I don’t know how significant this is, but I do recall that in the neighbourhood I lived, which was a sort of suburban, commuter Anglophone community plunked on the back of an old French Canadian village, there was literally a boulevard that divided the two worlds. I remember being sent to the corner grocery store; a little mom-and-pop operation, to get cigarettes or milk or whatever my mother needed and I remember that sense of being on the edge of something. Looking across the street, I was aware that I just had to cross that street and there was a different language, a different religion and a different way of being. I was enchanted by that, at some level, but also sort of perplexed by the subtle prohibition, not from my family but from the culture itself at that time in Canada, against crossing that road. I think that was my first inkling of my interest.

And when I was 14, I was very fortunate to have had a schoolteacher in Montreal who took a handful of us to Colombia for the whole summer. The other lads were older than I was – they were 16 – and some of them were billeted with wealthy families in the city of Cali. I, fortunately, was with a more modest family up in the mountains so I didn’t see the other Canadians all summer, and whereas some of them felt homesick, I felt like I had finally found home. I became completely enchanted with Latin culture. I just loved it. I think that was sort of the beginning.

And being from British Columbia and spending time in logging camps and fighting forest fires as a kid brought me into contact with the First Nations and their terrible plight and the lack of respect we had for First Nations circa 1969-70. All those things had a great impact on me. When I went off to Harvard, I didn’t know what I was going to study. The day before I had to decide what my major would be, I just happened to walk through the Peabody Museum and I saw these fantastic dioramas of indigenous people from all around the world. I walked out into the sunlight and ran into a friend of mine and casually asked him what he was going to study and he said “anthropology.” I said, “What’s that?” He said, “Well, you study about Indians.” And in a kind of Forrest Gump moment, I just said, “Oh, that’s good. I’ll do that.” And that’s how I signed on for anthropology.

SW: It has certainly shaped your entire life.

WD: It certainly did. And then I was so fortunate to fall into the orbit of two extraordinary mentors – one in anthropology and one in ethnobotany – David Maybury-Lewis, to whom I dedicated the book The Wayfinders and Richard Evans Schultes, about whom I wrote a biography, One River.

SW: What inspired you to write your new book Into the Silence, the Great War, Mallory and the Conquest of Everest?

WD: In 1996, I was travelling with a close friend of mine, Daniel Taylor, on an ecological survey across Tibet. It was a long journey of 4,000 miles and we happened to come by Everest just as the disaster was unfolding that Jon Krakauer wrote about in his wonderful book Into Thin Air. All of Kathmandu was abuzz with the significance of the tragedy and I think, for people like Daniel, who had been raised in the Himalaya, the commercialization of Everest had become a real concern, particularly since it had led to such unnecessary loss of life. The next fall, by chance, Daniel and I were back in Tibet together on the east face in the Kama Valley trying to photograph snow leopards and clouded leopards and we got caught in unusual snow conditions. Daniel began to speak of the Everest of his imaginings, which was the Everest of his father, who was a very close friend of Howard Somervell, who climbed with Mallory in 1922 and 1924. I became completely enchanted by this idea of these Englishmen in tweeds reading Shakespeare in the snow at 20,000 feet. When I returned to Vancouver, I dropped into MacLeod’s bookstore and was chatting with Don, the owner, and suddenly I noticed right behind his head on a shelf of rare books, first edition accounts of the expeditions of 1921, 1922 and 1924. Those became the first purchases in a research collection for this book that would, in time, grow to over 600 volumes.

What interested me from the very start was not whether George Mallory reached the top before his death, but rather what was going through his mind as he walked towards the summit. My thought from the very beginning, and it is actually in the first letter that I wrote to my agent that resulted in the book contract with Knopf, was my sense that, for the men who lived through the mud and blood of Flanders and the Great War, life mattered less than the moments of being alive. I wasn’t suggesting in any way that they were cavalier about death. Only that for them death had no mystery. They had seen so much of it that it had nothing more to teach them, save that of their own. I was not suggesting that Mallory deliberately walked to his death, as if knowing he was going to die. Not at all. He was a devoted father and he had a wonderful wife and a great life to look forward to. Rather, for that entire generation, the whole kind of gestalt of death had shifted and what mattered was how one lived. I think it is true that, after the war, the climbers were prepared to take a level of risk that would have been unimaginable before the war. By the time of that third climb, of course, Mallory was indeed a man obsessed. The mountain had become him and he had become the mountain. That alone propelled him into the void.

SW: And you have a second book coming out this fall?

WD: Yes, The Sacred Headwaters, which will be launched in Canada in early November. It’s a photo book of what is arguably both the most beautiful and imperilled region in the country, a place that unfortunately most Canadians know little about. By a wonder of geography three of our most important salmon rivers, the Stikine, Nass and Skeena, are born in remarkably close proximity to each other in a stunningly beautiful valley known to the Tahltan First Nation as the Sacred Headwaters. It has sometimes been described as the Serengeti of Canada because of the remarkable populations of Osborne caribou, grizzly bears and wolves. Working with the National Geographic, I have been fortunate to travel throughout the world, sometimes to as many as 30 countries in a year. But there is no place that I have experienced that in its raw beauty can compare to this extraordinary region right at our doorstep here in British Columbia. Yet as is occurring in so many wild corners of the planet, the entire Sacred Headwaters is being swept by a tsunami of industrial development.

I only wish more Canadians were aware of what is being done in their names by government and industry in the remote reaches of the country. I suppose part of the challenge lies in the fact that while Canadians love the idea of the North, few of us go there. We’re the most thoroughly urban society in the industrial world. When I met with the former premiere, Gordon Campbell, I was surprised that even he had never been to the northwest quarter of the province, an area of land the size of Oregon.

Were Canadians to know what is occurring in the remote reaches of the Stikine, the Skeena and the Nass, I am quite certain they would be outraged. So in a certain sense, the book attempts to bring the country to the people, with stunning images and a text that both celebrates the remarkable resistance of the elders of the Tahltan First Nation and exposes the manner by which a small number of individuals and companies are gaming a provincial environmental assessment process transparently skewed in favour of the industrialisation of the wild.

I recruited colleagues from the international league of conservation photographers, which is a group of the best nature and wildlife photographers in the world and we raised support for them to come and do a Rapid Assessment Visual Expedition. None were paid for their efforts, but thanks to them we have a portfolio of images that is simply stunning. David Suzuki generously contributed a foreword and Bobby Kennedy Jr. wrote a very moving afterword.

This region of British Columbia is to my mind simply the most beautiful place in the country, and as significant an expanse of wilderness as remains in North America. John Muir called the lower third of the Stikine a Yosemite 120-miles-long, and he named his beloved dog after the river. Five million tourists visit The Grand Canyon of the Colorado every year; 27,000 run the river itself by raft every season. By contrast, Canada’s most dramatic canyon that of the Stikine, is celebrated by international kayakers as the K2 of white water challenges. In all of history, less than 50 people have ever gone down it and no raft has ever made it.

The book is an attempt not only to celebrate this extraordinary land– it’s the kind of place you could hide England in and the English would never find it – but also to alert Canadians about what is about to befall it. Americans today would give anything to reverse the egregious policies that led to the loss of Glen Canyon. In Canada, we still have time to stop massive developments that are in every way as ill conceived as the fateful decision to build that canyon dam and destroy the jewel of the American Southwest.

If Glen Canyon famously was the canyon that nobody knew, Todagin Mountain is today the mountain that nobody knows. A wildlife sanctuary in the sky, it is an upland plateau that soars above the nine pristine headwater lakes of the Iskut River, the main tributary of the Stikine. Home to the largest population of Stone Sheep in the world, with enormous populations of wolves and grizzlies, it is wildlife habitat so rich that government long ago severely restricted hunting; only bows are allowed. Were Todagin to exist in any other place it would have long ago been protected as national park or world heritage preserve. Instead, the government has authorised Imperial Metals, the 75th largest mining company in Canada – a small company, a handful of men, essentially – to construct an open pit copper and gold mine, processing some 30,000 tons of rock a day for thirty years. The mine will inundate Black Lake with 183 million tons of toxic tailings and generate 307 million tons of waste rock. There are 4,000 copper mines in the world. To place one on Todagin Mountain, given its location and the extraordinary economic significance and beauty of the headwater lake district that it anchors, is like drilling for oil in the Sistine Chapel.

The Red Chris is but one of the many industrial proposals threatening the Sacred Headwaters. Shell Canada seeks to extract coal bed methane from a tenure of close to a million acres, a project that could imply the construction of as many as 6,500 wells with roads and pipelines creating an industrial matrix over the entire headwater valley.

None of these developments can proceed without power. And the government has asked the people of Canada to absorb the $404 million cost of building a 287-kilovolt transmission line to nowhere – for its terminus, Bob Quinn Lake, is today nothing but a highway yard. Imperial will construct its own small line 70 miles south to tap into the provincial grid. The government will speak of expanding provincial infrastructure, Imperial of its private investment. There will be no talk of subsidies, even as Imperial begins construction of a mine that will benefit few and compromise the lives of so many. What is perhaps most scandalous is the fact that $130 million of the costs of expanding the power grid is coming from our national Green Infrastructure Fund. I think Canadians would be shocked to know that funds set aside to green our economy are, in fact, being used to subsidize power to a mine that in its very conception is certain to destroy an iconic mountain and one of the richest wildlife sanctuaries in North America.

SW: What does the word sustainability mean to you?

WD: Sustainability implies the adoption of an entirely new set of priorities, a societal imperative that ensures to the extent possible that our economic activities generate no net loss of our natural capital. It is perhaps less a goal to be achieved as much as a perspective that may allow us to change the fundamental way by which we treat the biosphere.

It’s interesting to consider how we came to view the natural world as we do, as a mere commodity to be exploited at our discretion. We take this to be the norm, but viewed through the anthropological lens, it is quite anomalous. Most cultures around the world live by a very different set of values. Indeed, many consider the Earth to be animate, alive and responsive to the needs of humans just as humans have reciprocal obligations to the lands that cradle their destinies and inspire their dreams.

Our mindset can be traced back to the Greeks, but it found its perfect distillation in the Enlightenment. When Descartes said that all that exists is mind and matter, with a single phrase he de-animated the world and swept away all instincts for myth, magic, mysticism and metaphor. As Saul Bellow said, “Science made a housecleaning of belief.” The liberation of the individual from the tyranny of faith and from the potential tyranny of the collective was the sociological equivalent of splitting the atom. But with the freedom came other challenges, alienation and isolation, a sort of cosmic loneliness as we abandoned the protective cloak of comfort that community and belief and faith provided. The important point is that, in de-animating the Earth, we granted ourselves licence to violate the natural world in a manner that would have been unimaginable to other people.

I wonder how different things might be if each of us had to confront directly the consequences of our demands on the natural world. Imagine if there was a law saying that before any person or company can destroy a mountain, pollute a river, tear down a forest, or violate an alpine lake, he or she or the entire board of directors of the enterprise must take their children to the place, camp for a week and listen as the local elders explain what the proposed industrial actions will do to the land and imply for the lives of their children and grandchildren.

Imagine if all of the children got together, apart from the adults, and made a deal, a fair exchange, as children are inclined to do. For every tree destroyed on Tahltan lands, for example, the kid from the city would sacrifice one of his mother’s favourite flowering shrubs from her garden. For every drop of toxic waste placed into a river or lake in Tahltan territory, an equivalent discharge would be dripped into the water supply of their suburban neighbourhood or into a family swimming pool that all those kids enjoy. This idea, of course, sounds far-fetched, even ridiculous, to the urban ear, but it is exactly what the Tahltan elder James Dennis means when he says, “Our land is our kitchen. When you bring your poison onto our land you are poisoning our kitchen.”

Such fairness and balance ought to be the norm, the way we, as Canadians, take measure of the impacts and potential of these various industrial projects. Unfortunately, we live by quite another code of conduct. This does not imply that we have no voice and no obligations. These projects will go ahead only if we accept that people who have never been on the land, who have no history or connection to the country, may legally secure the right to come in and by the very nature of their enterprises leave in their wake a cultural and physical landscape utterly transformed and desecrated.

They will go ahead only if we continue to endorse a process that grants mining concessions, often initially for trivial sums, to speculators from distant cities, even as we place no cultural or market value on the land itself. They will go ahead if we maintain that the cost of destroying a natural asset, or its inherent worth if left intact, need not have a metric in the economic calculations that support the industrialization of the wild. They will go ahead if we remain committed to the notion that no private company has to compensate the public for what it does to the commons, the forests, mountains, and rivers, which by definition belong to everyone. That it merely requires bureaucratic permission to proceed.

They will go ahead as long as we continue to embrace a mindset that has no place in a world in which wild lands are becoming increasingly rare and valuable, even as we strive as a species to live in a sustainable manner on a planet we have come to recognize as being resilient but not inviolable.

The people of the Sacred Headwaters, the men and women of the Tahltan First Nation – all those who have rallied against these developments – have a very different way of thinking about the land. For them, the Sacred Headwaters is a neighbourhood, at once their grocery store and sanctuary, their church and schoolyard, their cemetery and country club. They believe that the people with greatest claim to ownership of the valley are the generations as yet unborn. The Sacred Headwaters will be their nursery.

The elders, almost all whom grew up on the land, have formally called for the end of all industrial activity in the valley and the creation of the Sacred Headwaters Tribal Heritage Area. In the end, what is at stake is the future of one of the most extraordinary regions in all of North America. The fate of the Sacred Headwaters transcends the interests of local residents, provincial agencies, mining companies and those few among the First Nations who favour industrial development at any cost. The voices of all Canadians and of all people deserve to be heard. Surely, no amount of methane gas, copper or gold can compensate for the sacrifice of a place that could be the Sacred Headwaters of all Canadians and indeed all citizens of the world.

SW: What did you make of Bolivia’s initiative “The Law of Mother Earth?”

WD: I think it’s idealistic and noble and an indication of how people feel and that they are frustrated. I think social change is happening. I’d like to think we will come around to a new appreciation of the limits of the world we live in. When I wrote the book The Wayfinders and did the 2009 Massey Lectures, the publisher added a subtitle to the book: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World and it sort of forced me to answer that question. In the end, I came down to two words: climate change. What I meant by that was not to suggest that we go back to a pre-industrial past or that any indigenous people or any culture around the world be limited in their access to the genius of modernity and the brilliance of science. What I was really trying to suggest is that the very existence of these other ways of thinking, these other ways of being, these other visions of life itself, in a sense, show us there are alternatives and it puts the lie to those who essentially say, “We cannot change” as we know we all must change the fundamental way we interact with the natural world.