Empathy Surplus Project

A Caring Citizens' Congress Federation.

Ohio Family Farmers Against TPP

A Caring Society Needs a Caring Economy With Ethical Business

Without strong family farms, healthy food is at risk and American lives are at risk. We need to strengthen American family farms. President Obama's TPP trade deal is really a wealth extraction scheme that threatens Ohio family farmers' freedom to farm for themselves and their neighbors. Privateer accomplices in the US Senate have voted against family farmers. It's now up to the US House of Representatives to protect family farm freedom and keep us happy.

Call your Congressman NOW and demand she govern with care and responsibility for and to us and strengthen family farmers and Medicare. Demand they vote NO on Fast Track for TPP wealth extraction from America.

Ohio Farmers Union Against Fast Track of TPP

joinusfamily1.jpgFor centuries small family farmers have been caring for Americans, leading to freedom and fairness for all. We elect our representatives to care for us and take responsibility for us and our neighbors to keep us safe and happy. We don't send them there to conspire behind closed doors to hurt us and to steal our common wealth. Yet, that's exactly what's happening. When one branch of government violates our healthcare human right to transparency in government, we expect our elected leaders to check that abuse of power.

Ohio Farmers Union national president Roger Johnson is calling on Congress to check President Barack Obama's abuse of presidential treaty making powers and vote NO on granting the President a rubber stamp and blank check on TPP, Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement. In a letter to all members of Congress, Johnson wrote,

“Trade promotion authority (“fast track”) would remove an important constitutional check on the president’s power to negotiate trade agreements. Trade agreements must be fair for all parties involved and should therefore be subjected to review by the Congress – not conducted secretly.” 

“Congress should have full opportunity to review the provisions of a trade agreement, consistent with the authority and power endowed by the U.S. Constitution. The lack of transparency in negotiating TPP is particularly egregious, considering its expansive scope.”

US Senate Failed Family Farmers - It's NOW Up to YOU - Call Your Representative

Both parties in the Senate ignored Johnson and traded family farm freedom away to unethical multi-national corporations. See the full list here. It's now up to you and your Congress men and women to check this healthcare human rights violation. Please call your representative NOW.

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A Call at the UN for a Caring Society with a Caring Economy and Ethical Business

As a Rotarian since 1981, I am especially interested in the work of the United Nations. Why? Because of the influence Rotarians had in the actual charter of the UN. In 2000, the Economic and Social Council to which Rotary International holds the highest consultative status as an NGO, created the Global Compact. In 2009, Rotary International partnered with the Global Compact and calls all its Rotarians, through clubs and districts, to collaborate more closely with the UN, and to consider how to align their own businesses around basic human rights.

The United Nations is preparing to adopt the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which will replace their Millennium Development Goals (MDG). It’s a grand list but, ironically, it misses out on the root cause that has brought us all these issues -- not caring enough about basic human rights to expand freedom and fairness for all.

Tessa Khan, Programme Officer at the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), called for more care for human rights in her speech at the UN General Assembly Financing for Development hearings held on April 9, 2015. We need more and more people like her, especially Rotarians, calling out the un-empathetic and irresponsible logic at the heart of the development agenda. There are 20,000 Rotarians in Ohio, where I live. Two of our three co-founders are Rotarians. As more and more Rotarians embrace our UN heritage and decide to engage directly, I look forward to collaborating with them.

Below the fold and the 9 minute video is the transcript of Ms. Kahn's testimony. If you're a Rotarian, or know a Rotarian, share this with a friend and consider exploring our partnership opportunity with a Caring Citizens' Congress.

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Working to Cure the Neoliberal Disease

By Robert Kadar and Joe Brewer, Co-Founders, Evonomics.com

“Zombiepocalypse” Unleashed by the Deadly Neoliberal Mind Virus

 

What it Takes to Destroy an Awful Bug.

A lethal parasite has infected the brains of politicians and economists all over the world. It is so invasive that it has defeated all attempts to control or eradicate it since its emergence decades ago, and we are still far from having an effective vaccine or way to prevent its transmission. The virus, known by its species name Neoliberalism Economicus (in lay terms, it is just called Neoliberalism), indiscriminately latches onto the brains of both liberals and conservatives. It turns social consciousness into ego-centrism, cooperation into unconscious greed, and it only gets worse as it mutates and spreads.

Once infected, the virus takes control of the host’s neocortex and converts rational thought into fantasy. The host begins to believe in ideas such as harmonious free-markets where people can act and do whatever they want, a deregulated financial industry that correctly responds to market signals and can dump compounding debt onto society without costs, and corporations that can maximize shareholder value without hurting employees, communities, or the environment.

This insidious virus doesn’t stop there. It leads its host to believe that government’s sole purpose for existing is to ensure that corporations and ultra-rich individuals aren’t restrained by rules because, if they were, economic growth would cease and wealth wouldn’t trickle down to the rest of society. Furthermore, there’s no need for government regulation when a natural order known as the invisible hand creates prosperity for all!

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Passover 2015: How shall we care for the Palestinians?

Reprinted with permission by Rabbi Michael Lerner and edited for the Empathy Surplus Project blog. Passover 2015 begins Friday evening, April 3, and ends Saturday evening, April 11.

The Caring Society Solution

What makes this year’s Passover Seders unlike any others is that a majority of American Jews are being challenged by their children to take responsibility and care for Palestinians. Palestinians today are asking Jews what Moses asked Pharaoh: “Let my people go.” The Israeli elections, and subsequent support for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s unempathetic and irresponsible refusal to help create a Palestinian state, is not playing well with many younger Jews. Redefining strength, younger Jews challenge their elders to care for Palestinians, too, and are becoming the caring society solution.

Increasingly, young Jews are embracing the strength of Moses, and calling Netanyahu, the contemporary Pharaoh, to care. So at the Seder more and more Jews will be asking Israel to become the caring society God created in the beginning and “let the Palestinian people go.” 

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We've Got People Dying

I am a member of the committee focused on living free through opioid use prevention. I was out-of-town and unable to attend the last meeting reported on in the Wilmington News Journal, Thursday, March 19, 2015. I wrote about opioid use prevention as a healthcare human right in January and again a couple of weeks ago. In addition to the public meetings, I have had private conversations with members of the committee, as well as, Judge Rudduck, about my hope that the committee can frame our conversation around healthcare human rights. 

If the words “healthcare human rights” were spoken at the meeting that the WNJ reported on, it apparently didn’t seem important enough to be printed. Judge Rudduck was reported to have said,

“We’ve got people dying and I don’t want to wait for a needs assessment. We know what we need. It’s ‘how do we get these needs met?’”

Judge Rudduck’s frustration is shared. 

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Living Free Working Group - Opioid Use Prevention in Clinton County

Chuck_Watts.jpgInteract for Health has funded the development of a future comprehensive plan on how to prevent heroin addiction in our communities. The Mental Health Recovery Center of Warren and Clinton County is the recipient of this funding and have invited interested parties to participate. The response has been encouraging. I’m calling this group the Living Free Working Group and am a member. #HealthcareHumanRights Collaboration partners and I approach prevention with the governing values of care and responsibility for self and others. For example, #CleanWater and #HealthyFoods are foundational to preventive #HeatlhcareHumanRights.

We, who are part of this Living Free working group, all have our personal and organizational agendas that we bring to building our Living Free comprehensive, community plan. I like to call these agendas our areas of expertise. For us to be successful, in my opinion, our challenge will be how to accommodate this wealth of expertise represented by every stakeholder’s agenda into the Living Free comprehensive plan. Here is the context of my participation. 

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Mr. Netanyahu — We Want A Stronger America and Not What You're Offering

imgres.jpgBy Rabbi Michael Lerner, Reprinted with permission

Now, more than ever, we want a moral foreign policy steeped in a strategy of generosity that realizes America can only be a #CaringSociety if the world is a caring world. This is the definition of a stronger world, a stronger America, and a stronger Israel. What you offer is ungenerous and uncaring. We stand on our strong caring character. We, Jewish and non-Jewish Americans, want a stronger America in a stronger and caring society, based on caring and responsibility to answer the world’s problems. Like our parents before us, who gave us the Marshall Plan in Europe, and joined Rotarians from all over the world in San Francisco to build the United Nations, we want a new Global Marshall Plan to build our caring world.

At a time when terrorist threats come from gangs of criminals versus states, when “free markets” exist without freedom, when overpopulation threatens stability and disastrous global warming, when intolerant cultures limit freedom and promote violence, when unethical transnational corporations privateer freedom for profit like oppressive governments, when an oil economy threatens our very existence, the central problems in today’s world are solved by #CaringCitizens who combine state-level approaches with caring society approaches.

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Civil Society Consultation on the United States of America’s Second Universal Periodic Review at the U.S. State Department

HRLogoTextCMYK_0.jpgOn February 20, 2015, at 10 a.m. at the U.S. State Department Building on 21st Street, Washington, DC, in the George C. Marshall Conference Room, I joined one other member of the Working Group on Healthcare Human Rights of the UPR, Universal Periodic Review. The UPR was created in 2006 by the General Assembly of the United Nations to evaluate member states human rights record.

This is the 70th year of the UN's existence, the only institution of its kind that promotes basic human rights. The UPR, which is only 9 years old, is the first process of its kind in the world which focuses on evaluating the human rights. It took five years, from 2006 - 2011, to complete the first UPR, and I was participating in the 2nd round of a process I am only beginning to understand.

IMG_0071.jpgMary Gerisch, Chairwomen of the Working Group on Healthcare Human Rights, and I, joined about 50 other members of "civil society" admitted by the State Department to give and listen to testimony. Mary and I sat at a large conference table with microphones at each seat. It was standing room only. My 2 minute statement, like that of others, was focused on how well our fellow caring citizens and our elected representatives in our particular communities are respecting, protecting and promoting human rights.

My statement focused on the conversations concerning healthcare human rights I have had since 2008, when DHL announced their decision to close their shipping operation. DHL had only two years early acquired Wilmington's Airborne Express, which at the time enjoyed about a 15 percent market share. In particular I invited State Department to visit our website to see the more than 100 photo petitioners who had promised to use our healthcare human rights talking points. And even more specifically, I zeroed in on sharing two of 40 questions and the answers, I had used in interviewing 69 caring citizens over the twelve months of 2014.

On a personal note, I was able to make contact by text with Wilmington native, Drew McCracken, Chief of Staff, US State Department, Public Policy Department. Our schedules didn't allow us to have lunch together, but we did make contact. I am reminded of my AM Rotary Club's sponsorship of Drew's Ambassadorial Scholarship to the London School of Economics, if my memory serves me well.

My Remarks

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Selma - A National Call for Empathy

No matter the time. No matter the place. Every citizen eventually gets a call to care for their fellow human being, just because they're human.

Caring for a fellow citizen, someone you don't know, just because they are a human being -- that's the soul of democracy -- the soul of America, leading to freedom and fairness for all. See Selma and renew your faith in humanity's capacity for empathy and responsibility for self and others. See it with someone you love. #CaringCitizens are the solution.

Where's today's Selma? 

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Opioid Use Prevention: Healthcare Human Rights

HRLogoTextCMYK_0.jpgI am looking forward to gathering with other caring citizens of the Opioid Use Prevention group next Tuesday, January 27, at the OSU extension office on Nelson Avenue, Wilmington. As a member of the Healthcare Is A Human Right Collaboration, I especially encourage (1) the use of human rights language in our efforts to address opioid addiction in Clinton County, and (2) inviting ethical businesses and their stakeholders in Clinton County to consider joining the UN Global Compact and align more local organizations around human rights.

2010-01-21_20.02.15.jpgThe importance of framing our civic task of opioid use prevention around human rights cannot be over stated. This 2010 photo to the left shows caring citizens gathered at the United Methodist Church to hear Judge Tim Rudduck discuss what would become today's "drug court." Research shows human rights language is about life, liberty and happiness and fosters cooperation and collaboration. According to the latest insights of the brain, how we frame our conversation to assist Judge Rudduck’s Drug Court is important in expanding civic engagement. Words matter and focusing on human rights and human dignity activates the part of everyone’s brain where empathy and responsibility for self and others lies. Since we, as a nation, currently have an empathy deficit, building an empathy surplus is important. 

For example, providing healthcare human rights universally in Clinton County hopefully means we are acknowledging failure to protect our fellow neighbors currently addicted to opioids and publicly recommitting ourselves to expand the basic freedom opioid addicted residents have to receive dignified, hassle-free treatment that’s equitable and available when they need it.

On the other hand, “business as usual” means using the default frame of business and products language. When we use business language without human rights language we activate the part of everyone’s brain where fight or flight, competition, and fear reside. The first two principles of the UN Global Compact Ten Principles state: 

  1. “Business should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights; and
  2. “Make sure they are not complicit in human rights abuses.”

Resisting the application of human rights language to our work violates the first two principles of the UN Global Compact and makes us complicit in human rights violations. Since we are friends of a court, we need to make conscious the irrefutable fact that we are dealing with human rights, dignity and freedom.

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