In the first chapter of my book, Life as a Whole: Principles of Education based on a Spiritual Philosophy of Love, I described 27 divine principles. They are: Goodness, Truth, Beauty, Reality, Awareness, Joy, Love, Wisdom, Power, Life, Growth, Fruition, Will, Freedom, Responsibility, Creativity, Balance, Harmony, Courage, Faith, Patience, Law, Justice, Peace, Wholeness, Health, and Perfection. These principles are eternal in the presence of God which is always with us, and we can always return to them in our consciousness and use them for guidance. In my view the most important is love which means taking care of ourselves and others while not harming anyone because spiritually we are all one in God.
In my Nonviolent Action Handbook I explain the characteristics of nonviolence. The basic principle is not hurting, not killing, and not destroying and not even having any desire to do so. When faced with serious wrongs that need rectification, nonviolent action does not submit to them nor does it retaliate by perpetrating any wrong in revenge. Thus nonviolent actions refuse to accept passively a bad situation, but they do not make it worse by committing additional wrongs. In civil disobedience a minor law may appear to be broken, but this is done to remedy a greater wrong from occurring and thus can be legally justified by the defense of necessity.
The attitude for nonviolent action I recommend is being open and friendly. Openness means transparency and not hiding anything or using secrecy to try to take advantage of what others do not know. When love is our guiding Light, then we treat all human beings as members of our own family and as friends.
Good communication is also based on openness as well as honesty. Being truthful with everyone is essential because truth is what is real. Mahatma Gandhi’s two most important principles are nonviolence (ahimsa) and holding to the truth (satyagraha). By always seeking the truth and expressing it clearly we educate ourselves and others. Deceit and lying are based on fear and mistrust, and they make problems more difficult to solve.
Respect for Freedom and human equality recognizes the dignity and spiritual reality of every person. Ultimately no one is worth more nor less than anyone else. We respect our own liberty by not violating the freedom of others. Using force against other people also violates one’s own freedom because it brings a reaction against the perpetrator of the violence. Exercising freedom means making choices and allowing others to choose also.
Compassion is putting our love into action to help others as well as ourselves, and doing so fearlessly without using any violence takes courage. Love is fearless because it trusts in the goodness of all, but those who are afraid think they need to use violence to protect themselves. Compassion with empathy feels the suffering of others as if it is our own and so acts to alleviate it. Compassion also prevents us from hurting others.
Love trusts that conflicts can be resolved without the use of force or violence through good communication; but beneficial results may not be immediate, and therefore one must have faith that problems will be resolved and be detached from initial consequences.
Thus one must also persevere in one’s cause and be patient which enables us to transcend time. Persistence also means being flexible by using various methods and tactics as long as they are nonviolent. Sometimes we need to sow seeds that we ourselves may never see come to fruition. Patience also means forgiving others and ourselves so that we can move beyond past mistakes.
Gandhi also emphasized the importance of not cooperating with evil, for how can we do good if we are helping to perpetrate evil which is harmful? This requires discernment and consulting one’s conscience carefully as we examine ourselves and the likely consequences of our intended actions.
In nonviolent demonstrations I recommend that people discuss and consider using the following:
1. We will not harm anyone, and we will not retaliate in reaction to violence.
2. We will be honest and will treat every person with respect, especially law officers.
3. We will express our feelings but will not harbor hatred.
4. We will be alert to people around us and will provide needed assistance.
5. As peacekeepers we will protect others from insults and violence.
6. During a demonstration we will not run nor make threatening motions.
7. If we see a demonstrator threatening anyone, we will intervene to calm down the situation. If demonstrators become violent, and if we cannot stop it, we will withdraw.
8. We will not steal, and we will not damage property.
9. We will not carry any weapons.
10. We will not bring or use any alcohol or drugs, other than for medical purposes.
11. We will keep the agreements we make with other demonstrators. In the event of a serious disagreement, we may withdraw.
12. We will accept responsibility for our nonviolent actions, and we will not lie nor use deception to escape the consequences of our actions.
Some may question why special respect should be given to “law officers.” This is because police are there to perform a civic duty to enforce the law and protect people’s rights. Thus as long as they are doing that correctly, demonstrators should pay attention to what they say. However, demonstrators are not obligated to obey orders if in conscience they do not agree with them. In civil disobedience often demonstrators are appealing to higher laws and principles in order to correct much greater wrongs and may seem to be in violation of misdemeanors such as trespassing or refusing to disperse. One can still respect people even when we do not agree with them and do not obey them.
In practicing nonviolence I also recommend overcoming seven major prejudices which are tendencies to favor some people over others based on irrelevant criteria. Thus I recommend liberation from the seven deadly “-isms” of sexism, racism, imperialism, militarism, materialism, dogmatism, and egotism. Not being sexist means treating everyone equally regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Neither race, skin color, ethnicity nor a cultural group should affect how we treat people. Imperialism is usually related to nationalism and is a tendency to think one’s country is superior to others and therefore has more rights; this leads to injustice and wars and must be avoided. Obviously militarism, which believes in the use of massive force, is the opposite of nonviolence. Materialism is the tendency to value money and physical things more than spiritual principles and ethical values, thus putting property and profits above people. Dogmatism is blind belief based on religion or some ideology that accepts without question certain doctrines. Applying such beliefs blindly can cause many problems in understanding, cooperation, and communication. Egotism places oneself and one’s own desires over others. Being selfish also makes cooperation and reconciliation difficult.
Other methods and techniques discussed in theNonviolent Action Handbookinclude affinity groups and consensus decision-making. There are also many creative actions besides protesting which may be taken such as study, writing, art, music, education, negotiation, mediation, divesting bad things and investing in good ones, voting, running for office, and lawsuits. Protesting includes noncooperation with wrongs, vigils, marching, boycotts, strikes, fasting, refusing to pay taxes, and civil disobedience which may include going to trial and imprisonment.
In the 1970s Nigerians living in the Niger Delta began fighting back against the damage done by the huge oil corporations. The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) was founded in 1990 and sent its Ogoni Bill of Rights to the national government which was obtaining 80% of its revenues from oil extraction. In December 1992 these people demanded $10 billion to compensate for damages and lost royalties from the Nigerian National Petroleum Company and the Shell and Chevron oil corporations as well as an end to environmental degradation. Shell alone had made $5.2 billion from Ogoniland since 1958. On January 4, 1993 about 300,000 Ogoni people marched peacefully to protest Shell’s ecological war, and that year Shell withdrew from Ogoni territory while remaining in the Delta. Four conservative Ogoni chiefs were murdered on May 21, 1994. Although Ken Saro-Wiwa had been denied entry into Ogoniland on that day, he was arrested and charged with the killing. On November 10, 1995 Saro-Wiwa and eight other MOSOP leaders were hanged for “incitement to murder.” A lawsuit was filed in a US District Court in New York, and in June 2009 Shell agreed to pay $15.5 million to the victims’ families. Meanwhile local activists managed to shut down about twenty oil installations.
In 1998 about 5,000 youths from the Ijaw nation in Nigeria demanded self-government and control over their natural resources because 70% of the government’s revenues came from Ijaw land. The Ijaw Youth Council advised the oil contractors to leave Ijaw territory by December 30, 1998, and they called their campaign “Operation Climate Change.” When Ijaw people gathered on that day, the Nigerian government sent about 15,000 soldiers with warships and tanks and imposed a state of emergency with a curfew. In the villages the troops fired on unarmed citizens. In the next week about 200 people were killed or were missing. When peaceful protest is made impossible, violent revolution often becomes inevitable. Insurgents bombed oil structures and government targets, vandalized pipelines, and abducted oil workers for ransom.
In 1995 Environmental Rights Action in Nigeria allied with Accion Ecologica in Ecuador. Texaco caused an environmental disaster that harmed human health in Ecuador and was later taken over by Chevron. The Supreme Court of Ecuador has ordered Chevron to pay $9.5 billion for the damages. The activists from these two countries formed Oilwatch International which was founded at Quito in February 1996 and includes organizations from Ecuador, Nigeria, South Africa, Cameroon, Gabon, Thailand, Sri Lanka, East Timor, Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, Colombia, and Brazil. In 2008 Ecuador adopted a new constitution which recognizes that Nature (Pachamama) is created and reproduced by life and has a right to be respected. In April 2010 at the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth 30,000 members met in Cochabamba, Bolivia and agreed that the Earth has “the right to regenerate its bio-capacity and to continue its vital cycles and processes free of human alteration.”
In 2006 the Transition Town movement began in Totnes, England, and it has spread to 460 groups in 43 nations. They develop energy-descent action plans to lower emissions and get off fossil fuels. Citizens meet and also work on improving flood security, expanding local agriculture, and promote the building of more efficient and affordable housing. Many cities are buying back coal-burning utilities so that they can replace them with clean energy.
In 2008 coal fueled 50% of US electricity generation, but this share fell to 37% in 2012 and to 33% in 2015. The coal industry wanted to build an export facility in Oregon or Washington, but planned terminals have been stopped near Clatskanie and in Coos Bay in Oregon and at Hoquiam in Washington. The Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign has helped retire 170 coal plants in the United States and blocked 180 proposed plants since 2002. Since 2010 the retirement of 245 coal-fired power plants has been announced. In 2016 activists were able to bring about the reduction of coal production and burning in the states of Oregon, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Texas, Iowa, Montana, Washington, and New York.
In July 2013 the rich investment firm Goldman Sachs published “The Window for Thermal Coal Investment Is Closing,” and six months later they sold their 49% share in the company that was trying to build the largest coal export terminal near Bellingham, Washington. In January 2014 about 300,000 people in West Virginia could not safely drink or bathe in their tap water for up to ten days because of chemical contamination by coal mining.
China’s large cities are suffering from high levels of smog, and between 2001 and 2010 they closed down coal plants that had been putting out 80 gigawatts (GW) per year. In 2015 China’s coal generation was 924 GW, and it is expected to increase to 1,250 GW by 2020. China’s estimated power capacity of 2,000 GW in 2020 is being planned to include a 48% increase in non-fossil power to 770 GW per year.
In 2011 France became the first nation to ban fracking, and so far it has been followed by Bulgaria, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Quebec, Newfoundland, Labrador, Vermont, and New York. The first Global Frackdown was held in September 2012 with 200 community actions in more than twenty nations. The second Global Frackdown in October 2013 had 250 actions in thirty countries on six continents. They passed over 400 measures against fracking in the United States by 2014. On October 11, 2014 more than 200 organizations came together on International Day to Stop Fracking, and Global Frackdown issued a Mission Statement calling fracking unsafe and harmful and asking government officials to ban fracking and promote renewable energy. Communities vowed to fight “fracking, frac sand mining, pipelines, compressor stations, LNG terminals, exports of natural gas, coal seam gas, coal bed methane and more.”
A 2013 study by Duke University of northeastern Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale fracking found that dozens of drinking water wells closest to fracking wells were contaminated by methane, ethane, and propane. A scientist at the University of Texas analyzed seismic events in the large Barnett shale region around Dallas and Fort Worth between November 2009 and September 2011 and discovered 67 epicenters of small earthquakes. In July 2013 the Journal of Geophysical Research reported that fracking around Youngstown, Ohio was correlated with 109 small earthquakes during one year, and prior to this in this area not one earthquake had been reported since monitoring began in the 18th century. In 2014 fracking with 137,743 wells in 13 states consumed about 240 million gallons of water and released 5,340 million pounds of methane in the United States. In March 2016 the US Geological Survey reported that because of the added danger caused by fracking about seven million people in central Oklahoma now face the same risk of damage as the most dangerous earthquake zones in California.
TransCanada faces widespread resistance if the US Government allows the Keystone XL tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada to be shipped on trains through Montana, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Texas. Drilling conventional crude oil requires about 0.2 barrels of water for each barrel of oil, but mining the tar sands oil needs 2.3 barrels of water per barrel of oil. In August 2011 in front of the White House 1,253 people were arrested for protesting the XL tar sands oil, and President Obama postponed granting the pipeline permit. In the United States the Cowboys and Indians Alliance opposed the Keystone XL pipeline at a series of demonstrations in Washington in April 2014. On November 6, 2015, the Obama government rejected the pipeline. Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline was announced by the Canadian government in June 2014, and much resistance was expected from the First Nations (indigenous people) and others; but the Canadian government approved the project on November 29, 2016.
In November 2012 the divestment movement to withdraw financial support from companies involved in fossil fuels and to invest in clean energy began accelerating the transformation. Within six months active divestment efforts had sprung up on more than 300 campuses and in over one hundred American cities, states, and religious organizations. In May 2014 Stanford University announced they were selling their coal stocks. The Global Divest-Invest Coalition got pledges from endowments and individuals to divest $50 billion in assets from fossil fuels and put the money into renewables. By December 2016, a total of 688 institutions involving $5.5 trillion in assets worldwide had divested from fossil fuels.
At the Global Climate Convergence in New York City on September 20, 2014 people called for
millions of jobs in renewable energy, conservation, and public transit;
a just transition from fossil fuels and nuclear power;
climate-friendly food and farming;
new water and sanitation systems;
an emergency transition to a new kind of economy;
and tax the rich and slash the bloated military budget.
The next day about 400,000 people marched for climate action in New York while 2,646 events were held in 166 nations. On September 22 about 3,000 people protested on Wall Street, and many were arrested for civil disobedience. In early October 2014 more than 235 organizations formed the Our Land Our Business campaign to challenge the World Bank’s new Benchmarking the Business of Agriculture project to curtail its reducing labor standards, destroying the environment, and its facilitating corporate pillaging and land grabs.
On October 17, 2014 the Pacific Climate Warriors from the island nations of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Samoa, Fiji, Marshall Islands, Tonga, Tokelau, Niue, Kiribati, Vanuatu, Tuvalu, and the Federated States of Micronesia in outrigger canoes, kayaks, and other small boats blockaded the Newcastle Coal Port in Australia, the largest coal port in the world. Thirty islanders were joined by many small boats and hundreds of Australians protesting the use of fossil fuels. Twelve ships were scheduled to pass through the port, but only two coal ships and two others were able to break the blockade with the aid of police on jet-skis who tried to move the boats out of the way. International 350.org helped organize this climate action. Many of the Climate Warriors are 350.org activists, and this was the first time they participated at the Newcastle Coal Port where Australians have organized similar protests. George Nacewa of Fiji said they were acting to protect their islands from being flooded by the effects of climate change. According to World Coal Association statistics in the fiscal year 2013-14 Australia produced 431 million tonnes (Mt) of coal and exported 375 Mt, making it the second largest exporter of coal in the world after Indonesia which exported 410 Mt in 2014. The largest importers of coal in 2013 were China with 327Mt, Japan 196Mt, India 180Mt, and South Korea 126Mt. Total global thermal coal peaked in 2013 and began declining in 2014. In 2015 China’s coal imports decreased about 30%, India’s 14%, and Japan’s 4%.
On October 27, 2014 after occupying the office of Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin, 64 people were arrested for demanding that a new fossil-fuel structure be banned and that the Governor stop supporting a pipeline for fracked gas. About 500 people attended a rally outside in support of the sit-in.
On the same day an indigenous Peruvian community took over the airport in the Andoas region of the Amazon in protest of the polluting energy company Pluspetrol of Argentina. On October 28 chief Nuevo Andoas reported that 500 people had stopped flights at the airport, and the next day the Aidesep group claimed they had 2,000 people occupying the airport and calling for government reforms on access to water and forest resources, cleanup, and compensation.
On November 1, 2014 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued its Synthesis Report, the last installment of its Fifth Assessment Report for the United Nations. They emphasized that climate change caused by human activities is having dangerous impacts worldwide, that the world community must act soon and effectively to limit global warming to two degrees Celsius, and that improvements in renewable-energy technology are making a safer climate situation economically viable. They warned that fossils fuels need to be scaled back significantly and that most of the world’s energy must be renewable by 2050 to stabilize the climate. Politicians were warned that they need to agree to an effective global treaty on climate by the end of 2015.
On November 29, 2015 more than 785,000 people participated in about 2,300 climate change marches and rallies in 175 nations. The largest marches were in Melbourne with 60,000 people and in London with 50,000 attending, and organizers estimated 45,000 in Sydney. About 20,000 marched in Madrid and as many in Rome. In Paris the climate march was banned because of fears about security after a recent terrorist attack. Actions by hundreds of anti-capitalists and anarchists provoked the police to use teargas, and more than 200 people were arrested. Major marches also took place in Adelaide, Amsterdam, Auckland, Austin, Barcelona, Beirut, Berlin, Bern, Brisbane, Budapest, Canberra, Christchurch, Copenhagen, Curitiba, Dhaka, Dumaguete, Edinburgh, Geneva, Helsinki, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Kampala, Kiev, Kyoto, Lille, Lisbon, Los Angeles, Lugano, Lyon, Manila, Marseille, Mexico City, New Delhi, Oakland, Oslo, Ottawa, Perth, Rennes, Seoul, Seville, St. Gallen, Stockholm, Sao Paulo, Taipei, Tokyo, Valencia, Vancouver, Washington DC, Wellington, and Zurich.
In December 2015 at the 21st conference of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris representatives of 194 nations signed an agreement that went into effect on November 4, 2016. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) estimated that the emission targets would bring about a 3°C rise in temperature over pre-industrial levels, not the 2°C goal mentioned in the agreement. Analysis by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology calculated that the promises made in Paris if kept would allow the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere at the end of the century to reach 710 parts per million, a small reduction from the previous estimate of 750. Yet that is far above the 450 ppm ceiling considered safe by some scientists and the 350 ppm goal of activists. Experts also criticized that the agreements were not binding and did not include a carbon tax.
In May 2016 many actions took place to protest fossil fuels. In August the NextGen Climate and Demos president Heather McGhee announced that their report, “The Price Tag of Being Young: Climate Change and Millennials’ Economic Future,” estimated that about $8.8 trillion would be spent by the millennial generation on the economic, health and environmental impacts of climate change.
On October 22, 2016 in North Dakota more than 80 activists were arrested for protesting the 1,100-mile oil Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) being constructed by the Energy Transfer Partners through land and sacred sites of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe where they had been protesting for several months. The next day hundreds of people gathered in Los Angeles to support the protest. On December 14 hundreds of scientists protested the climate-change deniers among President-elect Trump’s advisors. Four days later President Obama announced his executive order banning oil and gas drilling in the Arctic and off the coast from Massachusetts to Virginia.
In response to the inauguration of President Trump on January 20, 2017 the People’s Climate Movement called actions during the next 100 hours. On January 21 about 600,000 people joined the Women’s March in Washington DC, and in events that day around the world more than four million people protested the Trump presidency in at least 600 cities on every continent including 750,000 demonstrators in Los Angeles, about 500,000 in New York, and about 200,000 in Chicago. Women also led protests in more than thirty nations.
Implementing an American tax on carbon requires approval by the United States Congress. Because most Republicans are determined to oppose any increase in taxes, getting this done soon will be challenging. Nonetheless some prominent Republicans are beginning to consider the economic consequences of global warming, and a few are advising a carbon tax. I also emphasize the need to transform industrial agriculture to organic farming on a world-wide scale and reduce the consumption of livestock in order to transfer carbon from the air into the soil and secure the supply of healthy food for all.
In addition to the continuing work of education and protests to raise awareness about the urgency of the dangers and problems as well as the solutions needed to remedy them, participating in and influencing the electoral processes are essential in order to bring about a democratic revolution. The movements for climate action, for peace, and for economic and political reforms need to work together in coalitions in order to mobilize a majority of voters. Until ranking voting can be implemented, progressives, greens, and socialists would be wise to work together in primary and final elections by being careful not to split their votes which could result in victories by conservative Republicans or corporate and warlike Democrats in primaries. I urge activists to run in elections at every level so that these views can be presented in as many races as possible. However, when green, socialist and progressives find themselves in competition with allies, they would be wise in voting to support the leading candidate who could bring about the best practical result in each election.
In Presidential elections in the United States I recommend that progressive, green, and socialist Democrats form a team after early campaigning reveals which of these candidates is most likely to be successful. If this candidate wins the Democratic nomination, then during that election the Green and Socialist parties could consider supporting the progressive, green, or socialist Democrat. The team approach to campaigning could designate not only the Presidential candidate but likely nominees for Vice President and the various cabinet positions. Then those people could also educate people and campaign on the policies that would be implemented. Between elections other nonviolent methods may be used.
People need to educate themselves and others on these issues in every way possible. Talk with your friends and others. Speak to political, social, and religious groups. Keep in contact with elected representatives. Be a personal example of peace and compassion.
Millions of people are resisting the foolish policies of the Trump administration and the Republican majority in the US Congress with nonviolent protests and demonstrations. During this emergency persons of conscience may consider not paying income tax to the federal government, either by living on a low income or by donating to nonprofit organizations to reduce or eliminate the tax.
Those in California may visit the yescalifornia.org website to learn about the nonviolent campaign to make California an independent nation. If California were a nation, it would have the fifth largest economy in the world and could be a progressive example to lead the world toward peace.
At some point in the future a constitutional convention could be organized to propose amendments to the US Constitution or even a new constitution could be proposed at a constitutional convention as the founding fathers did in 1787. Also reforms of the United Nations could be proposed worldwide, and a global convention could be held to discuss and draft a democratic constitution for the United Nations. With the internet millions and even billions of people could participate in various ways in these decisions.
This chapter and book are unfinished because the future depends on what people will do to save humanity, civilization, and all life on Earth.