Archive for April, 2009

I received an invitation from Trisha Famisaran to attend a conference on Feminism and Ecology and had the privilege of listening to a presentation by Rosemary Radford Ruether.  It made a profound impact on me as I ponder the meaning of eco-feminism.  I do not know if I got it right but it does not seem to matter at this point because the concept has allowed me to draw some meaningful conclusion about life.  It makes me think that perhaps we got it all wrong.  All these things about going out and helping the poor because we have all the knowledge and wisdom and technology.  But isn’t all these technical knowledge and the colonial logic destroying us and our world?  Aren’t we not suffering now because of our advancement and the pursuit of the rational in manipulating the world that we live in?  We have caused more damage to the world and our environment than the poor.  We have created more conflicts and caused more depression among our generation.  The poor did not cause environmental damage.  They were using buffalos and planting rice in the field and live with what they have.  They were simple.  They did not have to consume products that have to be recycled.  They were contented with their buffalos until our technology tells them that there’s something better and that they could earn more money to buy more products.  I wonder if it is the poor that we have to look up to to relearn to live our lives.  And who’s to say that they are poor if it is not our very own need to create categories.  They just live a simple life.  Because we are not simple or cannot live simple, we call them poor.  My professor, Dr. William Clement once said to me, “People like to talk about helping the poor.  For me, they poor have already helped me so much.”  What a profound wisdom.  We always think of someone like Donald Trump as a successful person.  But is this really success?  What if success is defined as a person who has the ability to live simple and live within the limit of what he or she has?

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I just  had a revelation while taking a warm shower.  Struggle with food has been an on-going fight for me.  I know I need to lose another 5 pounds at least.  Others probably think perhaps 10 or more.  But 5 pounds isn’t easy at all.  I often wonder why.  There were times I could do it and times I could not.  Food and deserts are just too good to skip.  I thought perhaps there is a need to balance between hope and discipline.  Our ability to discipline ourselves depends largely on how hopeful we are.  If I could see the light in giving up some food, I would probably do it.  If I could not, it will have a much harder time.  If I believe I can do it and 5 pounds is very achievable, it will come to me.  If I feel that it is almost impossible, I will try and try and try and will never be motivated enough to pursue it.  This sounds so simplistic but to me it is still a revelation.  5 pounds, is it half-full or half-empty?

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No ‘people power’ crusade, this

Published: 14/04/2009 at 12:00 AM
Newspaper section: News

At the time of writing, I have no idea how the Thai political turmoil will play out. I cannot help feeling, however, as if I were watching the same movie all over again, a repeat of the build-up to the Sept 19, 2006 coup to an unfolding anarchy, a social melee mistaken for a “people’s power” crusade.


Protesters force their way past soldiers through a shattered glass pane into the venue of the 14th Asean Summit in Pattaya on Saturday.

I have never agreed with the Sept 19 coup and never will. On the one hand, that political farce was an attempt to prolong the grip on power of some elite and military figures. On the other, it was a compromise with immoral capitalism from which the hideous beast of corruption had spawned and is threatening to eat up the whole Thai society.

The ludicrous coup only broke the snake’s spine. Now the wounded and vengeful serpent is returning to bite back its attackers, whom it has lumped together as Amartaya Thipatai (governance by the ruling elite or mandarins).

In the end, the half-hearted, half-baked coup ended up becoming the prisoner for democracy lovers to stone. What a pathetic end for these outdated knights on metal tanks! They should have gone back to their barracks following the May uprising in 1992.

I wonder what would have happened had there been no coup? How would Thaksin Shinawatra, the prime minister at that time, have treated the people who eventually rose up to oppose him? After all, the Oct 7, 2008-style brutal tear-gassing could have happened in his term, which had seen the cold-blooded massacre of Muslim insurgents and protesters at Krue Se and Tak Bai, as well as the blatant murder of thousands in the name of the war on drugs.

Had the Thai public been given a taste of fighting the capitalist dictator by themselves without the help of military tanks, they might have seen the true face of the political charlatan already.

But the coup-makers had an illusion that they could save the day and rolled out the tanks – they were as clueless as likay performers who believe in the make-believe grandeur – only to stumble by their own impotence, get caught by the villain, put in manacles and paraded around town as the elitist thieves who’d stolen democracy. The crook who had plundered treasure from the nation, from our state enterprises, thus managed to reinvent himself as the democratic hero, as a saint who will come down and free the masses from the chains of poverty.


Bangkok Senator Rosana Tositrakul.

I respect people who fight for a society of their ideals. However, the years of working in civil society movements have taught me to trust only the power of our own hands and brains. I have learned to never hope for a hero who will lift us up from scarcity and hardship overnight. For that reason, I think the man who said: “If I could become a prime minister, there would be no poor person within this year,” is more likely a demagogue than a democrat.

Isn’t this demagogue who is haunting us via video-link the same man who shamefully deceived Bangkok people that he would solve the traffic problem in six months? Isn’t he the same man who declared a war on poverty but doubled Thai people’s debt after five years of managing the country? While enriching himself to the tune of a hundred billion? Isn’t he the same man who was sued for issuing a dud cheque for one million baht 20 years ago?

Isn’t this demagogue the same man who promised the whole country he would revoke the 11 laws issued by the previous government?

Who instead used those same laws renamed as State Enterprise Corporatisation Act to sell the Petroleum Authority of Thailand (now PTT Plc) at a bargain price?

Who was also trying to sell the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand?

Who stands to gain from privatisation? If not the politicians, capitalists and their cronies, then who?

And who are the losers? If not the taxi drivers, motorcycle taxis and grassroots people currently mesmerised by this saint who appears via video-link?

I can’t help but wonder what would it be like if this self-styled god of the poor received an amnesty and returned to the seat of power at the Thai Khu Fah Building (Government House)?

How would that change the face of Thai politics?

– Would the so-called Amartaya Thipatai disappear?

– Would at least three privy councillors resign?

– Would the executive branch become absolutely stable as there’d be little or no opposition?

– The Prime Minister would come from one family and stay for at least 20 years? He would govern the country in CEO-style, as if this were a Thailand Plc? There would be no poor in this country/company in 2010?

All this is probably in the demagogue’s imagination. The question is: Do we share or want to be a part of it?

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This report comes from Adventist Development and Relief Agency

—A deadly earthquake devastated central Italy on Monday, April 6, displacing tens of thousands of people, and killing more than 200 people in the worst earthquake to hit Italy in almost 30 years, according to the latest reports from Reuters. ADRA is monitoring the situation in order to prepare an appropriate response for the early recovery phase of the disaster.

“ADRA is committed to helping those who are suffering in this ongoing tragedy,” said Joerg Fehr, executive director for the ADRA Euro-Africa regional office located in Switzerland. “As relief efforts continue, let us remember to keep those affected by this disaster in our prayers.”

During the initial response to the disaster, the Italian Civil Protection Agency, the Italian police, and the Italian army are on the ground, searching desperately for more survivors in the rubble. When the early recovery phase begins, humanitarian aid agencies will be prepared to provide the aid that is so urgently needed during the recovery stage.

The 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck near the capital city of L’Aquila, in the Abruzzo region at 3:32 a.m., local time, on Monday morning.

Recent reports indicate that the earthquake injured at least 1,500 people, and killed more than 200, many of them in the town of L’Aquila, located approximately 70 miles (110 kilometers) east of Rome, and surrounding towns and villages.

Updates will be released as response efforts expand.

To send your contribution to ADRA’s Emergency Response Fund, please contact ADRA at 1.800.424.ADRA (2372) or give online at http://www.adra.org.

ADRA is a non-governmental organization present in 125 countries providing sustainable community development and disaster relief without regard to political or religious association, age, gender, race, or ethnicity.

Additional information about ADRA can be found at http://www.adra.org.

Author: Nadia McGill

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My wife and I have been trying really hard to save for our retirement.  And the past few months did not really help at all.  It is interesting how we keep planning for the future and it is mostly about the future.  How can we have enough money to keep us through old age.  In a strange way, we do not quite plan for the transition of meaning into old age.  We think that what is meaningful will continue to be meaningful when we grow old.  But things change.  Often productivity is what defined who we are and gives us a sense of meaning in life.  But can it sustain us?  While we invest in mutual funds, I think this is really a great metaphor for the way we need to conceptualize meaning as well.  I was constantly being told to diversify and by good funds. When it comes to meaning as well I think it will be a mistake to invest everything in one stock.  If we assign meaning to one thing, when it changes, we will be in distress unless it only ascends.  But most things in life goes up and down like the stock market.  We may have to learn to diversify our sense of meaning.  We may have to say, I find meaning in my work, family, cats, walk in the nature, friends, food, prayer, games, movies, church, travels, books etc.  If our soul can diversify its source of meaning, we will probably be better off facing the future with all the ups and downs in various areas.  When the friends are few, there are food and cats.  When church is not as sensible, there are books and nature.  Diversification makes it possible to balance life’s meaning in its full reality of pain and gain.

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