Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Open Letter to Bill Gates, re: How to Avoid a Climate Disaster

 Dear Bill Gates,

Thank you for thinking deeply about the climate crisis. When I heard your interview on PBS News Hour last night, I was struck by your mention that manufacturing is a major contributor of CO2, which escalates the climate crisis. This puts you—a kind person at heart, a billionaire and founder of Microsoft—in a unique position to make major change quickly. For example, you could urge Microsoft, starting immediately, to stop developing new operating systems—Microsoft would from now on focus on teaching people to repair existing devices that run existing Microsoft operating systems. All new software would be designed to run on existing operating systems. You would be leading the way for others to follow, like the late radical industrialist Ray Anderson did by continually reducing the carbon footprint of his industrial carpet manufacturing corporation, Interface, Inc. Anderson was inspired by Paul Hawkin’s 1993 book The Ecology of Commerce, which argues that the industrial system is destroying the planet and only industry leaders are powerful enough to stop it. Now is your opportunity to urge Microsoft to be a model of reducing carbon footprints in our interconnected globalized society.

You could explain how new operating systems are connected to increased manufacturing, which accelerates the climate crisis—every new operating system makes older electronic devices obsolete and necessitates constantly manufacturing new devices to run always newer and newer operating systems. Manufacturing adds CO2 to the atmosphere, which adds to the greenhouse effect that causes ever more extreme weather, and melts glaciers and the polar ice caps. (Glaciers and polar ice caps have been regulators of climate and sources of water for plants and animals, including humans). You could explain that manufacturing pollutes in other ways, too, starting with the mining of minerals used to manufacture products, and to build the factories in which to manufacture them.

In your PBS News Hour interview you mentioned steel and cement manufacturing as major problems. If Microsoft stopped creating new operating systems, and focused instead on supporting already-existing operating systems, and repair of existing electronic devices, there would be far less need for factories manufacturing electronic devices, less need for manufacturing the cement and steel from which those factories are built, and less need for mining and transporting the petroleum and minerals that go into manufacturing factory buildings for manufacturing electronic devices.

What if you present some of the many benefits to people and planet if Microsoft were to make that one change? For example, miners I met in Oruro and Potosi, Bolivia tell me it’s usual to die at around age 45 from silicosis they get from mining the minerals that are used to make new electronic devices. If Microsoft stopped making new operating systems, there would be less need for new electronic devices to be manufactured, thereby helping miners live longer and healthier lives. Less mining also means that people, and all the plants and animals, who live downstream from current mining operations would have cleaner water, and they would become healthier. Huge amounts of CO2 would stay in the ground and thereby put the brakes on accelerating climate crisis.

The climate would benefit by Microsoft halting creation of new operating systems and teaching people to repair existing electronic devices that use existing operating systems. And people would also benefit by slowing down and making do with what they have. Businesses could be more efficient, because they wouldn’t have to be constantly retraining their staff to learn new operating systems, or deal with business shut downs due to bugs in new operating systems. Workers and management could instead better focus on doing their jobs. One efficiency expert said many years ago in a Los Angeles Times interview that running a business using typewriters and pencils and paper was much more time efficient in the long run than a business using computers. Because, the efficiency expert said, businesses using computers needed workers to be constantly retrained on the ever-changing technology, while businesses using technology that stayed the same and functioned as reliable tools could focus all their time on doing their work. When a worker learns how to use a tool, and that tool stays the same, the worker becomes a better and better worker using that tool. But workers’ energies are scattered when the tool they use constantly changes how it functions (in this case, an electronic device with a Microsoft operating system). As I mentioned above, the late radical industrialist Ray Anderson woke up to the damage his corporation was causing, and immediately set out to change its ways. You are a brilliant and caring person, and I think you can have an even bigger positive impact on climate and people’s lives around the world by urging Microsoft to support its existing operating systems (instead of creating new ones), and teaching people how to repair electronic devices instead of having to buy new ones. Just like workers hone their skills using the same tools over long periods of time, the same is true of culture and the arts.

When artists can devote all their energies to creating art instead of dealing with technological difficulties of their tools, such as computer programs that suddenly are not supported by a new operating system, imagine the art and cultural Renaissance that could flourish! For example, animated-filmmaker Nina Paley (Sita Sings the Blues, Seder-Masochism) mastered her tool, Flash 8. But newer operating systems no longer support Flash 8, so she stopped making films altogether, rather than dedicate years to master to the same level another animation program, which would likewise become unusable in just a few years. We can only imagine what masterpieces are lost because Nina Paley and other independent artists’ digital tools became useless due to ever-changing operating systems.

Therefore, Microsoft calling a halt on new operating systems could set a major precedent for shifting the tide towards more efficient and sustainable ways of working and living. Businesses could have less employee stress and burn out. Art and culture could flower. People, plants and animals could be healthier. And runaway climate crisis could slow down.

Dear Bill Gates, you are in a unique position. By having the brilliance and resources to create whatever you set your mind to, you can take this opportunity to make an immediate and powerful impact on slowing down the climate crisis by publicly urging Microsoft to support all existing operating systems and teach people how to repair their already-existing electronic devices, and to stop making new operating systems. The world is watching.

 

Sincerely,

Lynette Yetter

cc: PBS News Hour

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Beyond Caste: thoughts on Isabel Wilkerson's bestseller

           Isabel Wilkerson’s landmark book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents opens our eyes to the harmful hierarchy of categories of race in the United States, by comparing it to India’s well-studied caste system, and the Holocaust resulting from Nazi Germany’s caste system (which in large part was based on U.S. Jim Crow laws). Caste, as Wilkerson so ably shows us, has roots in biblical old testament beliefs. Post-WWII Germany, Wilkerson holds up as an example of how to dismantle caste. Germany has multiple monuments to those harmed, such as a bronze plaque in the sidewalk outside the door of every home where a lesbian, Jew, or gypsy was kidnapped from and later murdered in a concentration camp. Germany and zero monuments to those who inflicted the harm, unlike that U.S. that lionizes slave owners and has scant public accounting and honoring of individual’s harmed be slavery and the later Jim Crow segregation whose mindset continues to harm Black folks today.

However, I suggest Wilkerson’s book Caste is the tip of the iceberg. There is more to explore about caste, and how to change caste-based behavior. Going beyond caste as a hierarchical ordering of categories, we can explore other ways that our Western, Indo-European, belief in the notion of categories and hierarchy as resulted in other forms of dominance, abuse, and destruction. And we can look at alternatives that are embraced by other cultures, which result in what systems scientist Riane Eisler calls “partnership” structured societies. Instead of believing that everything is divisible into discrete hierarchical categories, separated by what Wilkerson calls “boundaries” or “lines”, we can embrace the world view of many indigenous peoples and even Nichiren Buddhism, which see everyone, everything, and even space and time itself, as an interconnected whole that is imbued with life. In this non-Western worldview the macrocosm is the macrocosm, and vice versa. What appears to be two, such as oneself and one’s environment, is actually one; the indigenous Japanese word “funi” describes this view of reality—two but not two. In short, instead of thinking of us versus them, or humans versus nature, we could think—“we are one.” When everyone and everything is part of yourself, of your family, of your group, no longer do you destroy Mother Nature and all her inhabitants by blowing up the tops of mountains for fossil fuel extraction. Because mountains are sacred. Mountains are members of the family with whom you converse in reciprocal relationship, like is practiced today in many indigenous communities in the Andes mountains of South America. You can imagine many ways our behaviors would change as more and more we embrace “we are one”.

How can we move from racist domination of caste towards partnership? Are education and laws enough? In regards to post WWII Germany’s example of educating all school children about the horrors of the holocaust, and numerous memorials to invoke reflection about the atrocities committed against so many siblings in our human family, Germany also legally enforces laws against hate speech (unlike the U.S. which considers hate speech to be protected as freedom of speech). The book Words that Wound: Critical Race Theory, Assaultive Speech, and the First Amendment notes that several years after World War II the leaders of many nations met and conferred about how to prevent increasing racism from creating another holocaust. Under the auspices of the United Nations, most countries agreed to outlaw the dissemination of racist ideas. Entered into force on January 4, 1969, the United Nations International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination reads in part,

Article 4

States Parties condemn all propaganda and all organizations which are based on ideas or theories of superiority of one race or group of persons of one colour or ethnic origin, or which attempt to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination in any form, and undertake to adopt immediate and positive measures designed to eradicate all incitement to, or acts of, such discrimination and, to this end, with due regard to the principles embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the rights expressly set forth in article 5 of this Convention, inter alia:

(a) Shall declare an offence punishable by law all dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred . . ..

But the United States declines its responsibility to “. . . declare an offence punishable by law all dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred . . .”. Instead of punishing hate speech, the U.S. protects “dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred” as freedom of speech. But is punishment by law enough?

Fear of jail reduced the amount of hate speech in Germany, but it did not eliminate it. Racist hate speech continues, as recent headlines show:

·         April 14, 2020, “Neo-Nazi Provocations on the Rise in Germany”.

·         September 16, 2020, “Germany far right: (29) Police suspended for sharing neo-Nazi images”.

·         December 1, 2020, “Neo-Nazi Sturmbridage 44: How serious of a threat is it?”; its subtitle reads, “Germany has banned the extreme-right group known as Sturmbrigade 44 or Wolfsbrigade 44. Interior Minister Horst Seehofer accused the organization of aiming to ‘rebuild the former Nazi state’.”

These headlines show us that those who spout hate speech still embrace the notion of hierarchical categories and that their personal category is at the top of that imagined hierarchy. Minds and hearts have not been changed by legislation.

It's like Lundy Bancroft’s work with domestic abusers. In his book Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, Bancroft notes that the convicted domestic abusers he attempted to reform, through court orders, were mostly white men whose jobs put them in positions of power over others (such as a policeman, or CEO). Most of these abusive white men would profess to have seen the error of their ways, and only wanted to be free and reunited with their wives (who they had been convicted of abusing), promising they would never do it again. But the evidence showed time and again that those men were lying through their teeth, saying what they knew the person in authority over them wanted to hear. Once these men were freed and reunited with their wives, the men resumed abusing them. The only times (which were very rare) that Bancroft saw a convicted domestic abuser truly change his ways was when every single person in his social circle shunned him because of his violent behavior. To not be completely shut out of his social circle of family, friends and work colleagues, he becomes motivated to do the hard work to find respectful ways of relating to his wife, instead of abusing her. However, if the convicted abuser has even one person in his social circle who approves of his abusive words and actions, according to Bancroft’s research, the abuser has zero motivation to change.

The same is true with caste and racism. If a racist has no one to sympathize with, he will necessarily behave in ways his social circle finds acceptable. But if he can find even one racist buddy to fuel each other’s hatred against anyone they perceive as different than themselves, he is unlikely to change. You can make those racist buddies’ hate speech illegal and throw them in jail (where they’ll likely meet even more racist people like themselves), like is done in Germany, but they will not have a change of heart.

One unrepentant example that comes to mind is Charles Manson. The category of people he hated (and had brutally murdered) were folks he considered to be in the “in crowd” in Hollywood—a crowd he had tried, and failed, to enter. Manson’s behavior perhaps points to the reasons of other mass murderers, which for a time were referred to in the press with the moniker of “going postal”, which referred to a disgruntled former postal worker who machine gunned down his former co-workers. Wilkerson might argue that Manson and the more recent mass murderers “going postal” were almost all white men, and that the notion of white male supremacy influenced their extreme aggression against other people, whether the other people were white or not. I agree that belief in categories and hierarchy are the root causes of racism and all forms of domination.

On another note, Wilkerson raises the issue of changing demographics in the U.S. fueling fear in many people born with (or passing with) white skin. One forecast is that in 2042 whites will no longer be the majority of the U.S. population. Right wing fundamentalist white Christian groups seem to be fanning the flames of fear and hatred of increasing numbers of people of color in the U.S. population. I’m guessing those churches don’t teach the Sunday School song I learned as a child in a white Methodist church, which goes like this:

Jesus loves the little children

All the children of the world

Red or yellow, black and white

They are precious in his sight.

Jesus loves the little children of the world.

Does all of this mean there is no hope of changing society to become more just, based on the vision that all are created equal? No. There is hope. Problems created by people can be solved by people. Adrienne Lafrance, in her recent article in The Atlantic about the danger of Facebook as a breeding ground of hate based on hierarchical categories that has devastating real world consequences, states, “We need people who dismantle these notions by building alternatives.” 

Lafrance’s envisioned alternatives appear to be technological in nature. Others such as Gandhi and Buddhist thinker Daisaku Ikeda promote education in critical thinking and ethics, and individual spiritual development and awakening (human revolution) as necessary for building peaceful and nurturing alternatives to Western society’s blind belief in categories and hierarchies. 

Here's an example of what an alternative to racism and all types of domination looks like. Were you one of the millions participating in the Women’s Marches around the world on January 21, 2017? If so, you experienced a powerful alternative—a sea of women and feminist men whose loving power was a sea of refuge, an embracing sea of oneness. No pushing or shoving. Only mutual respect and a clear desire for justice, in all its many aspects. When a pair of counter protestors stood on a curb in Washington, D.C. with their banner against women's reproductive freedom, they cowered in silence as the feminine masses like a mighty river flowed around them; for hours 1.2 million unified women pumped their fists in the air and in unison chanted, “My body, my choice!” as they passed by those two silent and blank-faced men who limply held their banner like deer frozen in the beam of headlights.

In other words, when hate speech is isolated and surrounded by people living truth with compassionate hearts, it withers. As more and more people open and develop their wise hearts of compassion and wisdom, with courage, to embrace the reality that we are one, we can turn the tide. And as anyone walking at the base of cliffs along a rocky seashore at low tide knows, when the tide turns, there is no stopping the tide. All are swept along in the tide’s cleansing flow.

 

Thursday, October 29, 2020

I voted. Have you?



ABC’s of Accountability for Black Lives Matter

 Pass it along:

Accountability

Black reverence

Compassion

Dismantle White supremacy

Equality

Fairness

Generate healing

Hold peace and listen

Insist on systemic reform

Justice

Kindness

Mobilize

No one can be a bystander

Organize

Peace and pluralism

Queer/LGBTQIA community protected & uplifted

Reach out

Show solidarity

Think consciously

Unlearn bias

Violence ends

White Humility

Xenophobia ends

Youth Empowered

Zealous commitment to end hate

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Lynette's Art on Exhibit thru 9/19 at Alberta Street Gallery

Forest Lily. Plein Air watercolor by Lynette Yetter, 2020.

The pandemic has reminded me that Mother Earth is the grounding of my community.  Forest Lily is part of a series of watercolors I have been painting in our NE PDX backyard since March 2020, honoring the Mother of all communities on this planet.

Right now Forest Lily is on display in the window of the Alberta Street Gallery. You can visit some of my other watercolor paintings inside the gallery in the "Engage the Change" community art show until September 19th.


Alberta Street Gallery
1829 NE Alberta St (corner of NE 19th)
Portland, OR 
(503) 954-3314
Open Daily 11-7

You can see some of my other watercolors online here, here and here.

Stay safe! Keep shining your light, illuminating humanity.

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Appreciation nurtures health and peace


Create the world you want to live in, by appreciating what there is to appreciate. Here is a watercolor sketch I painted yesterday of Sein Creek where it flows into Hagg Lake in Oregon.

Wall of Moms: War is not healthy for children and other living things

My mom was Another Mother for Peace. She posted this poster on a childhood bedroom wall, "War is not healthy for children and other living things." (She posted the poster in my brother's room, in case he got any notions of growing up to become a murderer-for-hire for the government--(aka, joining the military.) When the current pandemic hit, the United Nations called for a ceasefire for health reasons. And the Wall of Moms link arms (while wearing the prescribed face masks to prevent their exhalations from affecting the health of someone else) as they stand united in front of federal troops who are sent out to attack the populace. Moms keep standing up for peace, and health. The camouflaged and arsenal-loaded federal troops all looked like boys to me, in the photos I saw. Not a single mom among them. It's long past due to have the boys (of any age) step aside in the name of public health. There are a whole lot of moms who can do it all better. My mom, even when she had Alzheimer's, recalled at a Mother's Day tea in her assisted living facility that her proudest memory was getting arrested with Maya Angelou at the Nevada Nuclear Test Site as they all chanted, "No More War! No More War! No More War!"

Mi madre era otra madre para la paz (Another Mother for Peace). Colocó este póster en la pared de un dormitorio infantil: "La guerra no es saludable para los niños y otros seres vivos". (Colocó el póster en la habitación de mi hermanito, en caso de que tuviera alguna idea para convertirse en un asesino mercenario para el gobierno, es decir, ser soldado en el ejército). Cuando la pandemia actual golpeó todo el mundo, las Naciones Unidas pidieron un alto el fuego por razones de salud. Y el Muro de las Mamás (Wall of Moms) une los brazos (mientras usan las máscaras faciales prescritas para evitar que sus exhalaciones afecten la salud de otras personas) mientras se unen frente a las tropas federales que fueron enviadas para asaultar a la población. Las mamás siguen defendiendo la paz y la salud. Las tropas federales camufladas y cargadas de arsenal me parecieron todos niños, en las fotos que vi. No hay ni una madre entre ellos. Ya es hora para los niños (de cualquier edad) se hacen a un lado en nombre de la salud pública. Hay muchas mamás que pueden hacer todo mejor. Mi madre, incluso cuando tenía Alzheimer, recordó en un té del Día de la Madre en su centro de vida asistida que su recuerdo más orgulloso era ser arrestada con Maya Angelou en el sitio de prueba nuclear de Nevada (Nevada Nuclear Test Site) mientras todos gritaban: "¡No más guerra! ¡No más guerra! ¡No más guerra!"

Sunday, June 28, 2020

New Memes: Global Feminism and World Peace

Global Feminism. 
2001 Earth drawing by Lynette Yetter, 
she transformed into a women's-symbol meme in 2020.
A meme I just created with my 2001 Earth drawing is the woman's symbol above. This meme has many meanings: Mother Earth, and women as Earth's foundation--in other words, Global Feminism. Women's power and Mother Earth's power need to be the guides for human societies. That's my intention with this meme.

Here's some background on my earth memes. The earth drawing, I created back in 2001 just after the twin towers in New York blew up. I drew a new view of the world to promote mutual understanding of each other as family members on Mother Earth. I shrunk the Atlantic ocean so that New York and Afghanistan share the same side of the planet. 

On the Saturday after the Twin Towers blew up I went to perform music with my panpipes and kena on the Santa Monica Pier, even though all large gatherings were cancelled due to fears of getting bombed by terrorists. To express my hope for world peace, I cut out my earth drawing and glued it on a tall blue candle in a glass--like the candles that usually have a picture of a Saint. I lit my candle and set it on my little table near my tip bucket and CDs for sale as I played to the massive emotional crowds roiling along the pier. 

I printed my earth drawing on to greeting cards, with the caption, "Shine your light. Illuminate humanity." 

Then I created the World Peace Flag project with this image, a community art project for all ages, which displayed in art galleries in Los Angeles. I'll dig in my website archives and find the page I made for this project, with downloadable earth to color with your hopes and dreams for the future, to add to the World Peace Prayer Flag Project. When I find that archived link, I'll post it here.

More recently, I re-purposed my Earth drawing into this meme for World Peace.
As you can see, I turned the south-pole up. And I titled it in Spanish, "Paz Mundial." I made this meme with the passion for people in so-called "developing countries" to be the voices, the agents, for world peace. The people that suffer the most from transnational capitalist greed and destruction need to be the people who define world peace--and how to get there. That is why the south is on top in my meme of World Peace.

What are your thoughts about world memes, world peace memes and women symbol memes?

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Share the wealth!

So many changes happening, thanks to massive ongoing protests in the streets. One change was someone I used to argue with about values and money. He believed getting rich yourself had no connection to values bad or good. Well, this friend just emailed me that he woke and will no longer teach his lucrative online class on achieving financial independence. Yay! 

He asked me (and others) for suggestions on how to rethink wealth in a racially just way. Here are some of my ideas:


What if we redefine wealth as happiness? Bhutan has done that. Instead of a Gross National Product index, they have a Gross National Happiness Index. Racial justice adds to happiness.

Developing compassionate action builds a wealth of happiness. You can check out some compassion research here: https://www.psychologicalscience.org/observer/the-compassionate-mind It turns out we (and baby chimpanzees) are happier when we altruistically give (or even see someone else give), than we are when we receive. This is assuming one has the basics of food, shelter, clothing, and money to pay the bills, clean air, water, soil to plant their veggie garden; and friendly people around in an atmosphere of mutual respect. 

To start balancing the scales so everyone has the basics from which to altruistically give, Cameron Whitten two weeks ago launched The Black Resiliency FundPortland, Oregon Black folks in need receive funds donated by non-Black folks. In the first four days people's donations totaled about a quarter of a million dollars. At the two week mark, the total is half a million dollars and growing. Funds are getting disbursed directly to Black folks in Portland to pay for rent, utilities, internet, transportation, medical costs, student loan debt, credit card debt, child care, moving costs and more. The Black Resiliency Fund is compassionate action creating happiness for the givers and the receivers!

Along these lines, my book 72 Money Saving Tips for the 99% focuses on nurturing happiness by strengthening relationships and building local community (the real wealth!), while weaning away from corporations, and saving money in the process. (Thank you, Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben&Jerry's, for endorsing my book!)

What ideas do you have for sharing the wealth?

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

BLM: How to remedy "lack of care or compassion"? Free medical and dental clinics staffed by volunteers


New Portland, OR police chief Chuck Lovell points out on CBS News the "lack of care or compassion'' by the officers involved in killing George Floyd.
"When I watched the video of what happened to Mr. Floyd ... I remember the big takeaway I had ... it wasn't the tactics, it wasn't the number of officers who were there ... it was really the lack of care and compassion. The thought that this is an idea that could exist ... it almost felt like you're not important. To me, the fight is not with each other. The fight for all of us is against that idea that people, institutions, agencies ... can harbor that feeling and it has bad outcomes for people."
Lovell is right-on naming the root of racism and so many other -isms; it all comes down to harboring a lack of care or compassion in one's heart. 

How to change hearts? How to remedy harboring "lack of care or compassion" in people's hearts? 

Many spiritual teachings present tools for doing just that; it's sometimes called "The Golden Rule"--treat others as you would like to be treated. And sometimes we need a road map, a guidebook, an instruction manual for how to get from here to there.

History presents many examples to guide us, both negative and positive. U.S. history seems rife with negative examples of what happens when we harbor lack of care and compassion in our hearts (slavery, police brutality, wars of invasion and aggression, settler colonialism, strip mining, clear cutting old growth forests, massacring indigenous people, polluting industries, discrimination in all its forms, and on and on).

However, Portland history also presents examples of people uniting together with hearts brimming with care and compassion. 

One such example is the Free Medical and Dental Clinics founded and run by the Black Panthers and staffed by volunteer doctors and dentists from OHSU. 

(You can read all about this inspiring time in Lucas Burke and Judson Jeffries' book The Portland Black Panthers: Empowering Albina and Remaking a City.) 

Although Black Panther free medical and dental clinics were eventually destroyed by a series of decisions by Portland city officials and urban planners (whose hearts apparently harbored lack of care and compassion), now is the perfect time to start fresh. Here's one way.

OHSU, I'm talking to you. You can encourage dentists and doctors to once again volunteer to treat folks for free. In addition to studying the Black Panthers' Free Medical and Dental Clinics as a model of care and compassion, you can also emulate the volunteer-run Haight Ashbury Free Clinic

Founded in 1967, the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic's mission is "provide compassionate care regardless of anyone's ability to pay." It was the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic's volunteers who coined the now famous phrase, "Health care is a right, not a privilege." 

In conclusion, there are many ways (beyond a major restructuring of how police behave) we can nurture each other with hearts harboring care and compassion. One way is for volunteer doctors and dentists from OHSU to ASAP staff free medical and dental clinics in locations accessible for lots of Black folks and everyone. Follow the successful models of the former Portland Black Panthers', and current Haight-Ashbury, Free Clinics. Quickly establishing volunteer-staffed free medical and dental clinics is one of many ways to follow Portland's new police chief Chuck Lovell's implied advice to harbor care and compassion in our hearts.