Archive for September, 2007

The Missing Religious Voice

September 28, 2007

Tuesday evening found myself and many others attending the US Armies’ Stryker Draft EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) public hearing. The Army has been trying for several years to get a Stryker Brigade permanently station in Hawaii. The stationing of the Styker Brigade in Hawaii would contribute to the further militarization of the Hawaiian Islands. It would also dramatically increase the amount of ordinance used, fired, and detonated on the Islands.

When my turn came to speak, I addressed a few problematic sections of the EIS directly. I then turned my comments to Buddhism.

I stated that I was invited to Hawaii as Buddhist practitioner and religious leader. I reminded the audience that Buddhism has a strong and clear anti War / militarization message and teaching. It is said the followers of the Buddha are not even supposed to watch the preparations for warfare.

I told the audience that I had serious concerns for our Buddhist children and our congregations who are most definitely watching the preparations for war. They cannot help but see them in these heavily militarized islands. They are also being exposed to an ideology of warfare and violence. An ideology that states, explicitly or implicitly, that war and killing are acceptable and even ethically correct. It is and ideology that runs directly counter to the Buddha’s teachings on non-harming, love, compassion, and wisdom.

I shared that as a Buddhist and Religious person, I had grave concerns about these impacts. I pointed out that nowhere in the EIS are the effects of increasing militarization on the Buddhist community mentioned. I reminded the audience that Buddhism is one of the largest, if not the largest, religion in Hawaii.

After these brief statements I concluded and returned to my seat. I listened to hour upon hour of testimony against the Stryker. The majority of the testimony was secular. Some of it was angry and some was not. However, there was not a strong religious opposition to the Stryker. The Hawaiians often spoke from a religious paradigm but few others.

Why weren’t strong religious voices present, Buddhists, Christians, Muslims, Jews? Where is the debate and struggle within the religious community over this most basic ethical and religious issue: warfare and violence? Why do our churches seem collectively either unconcerned or paralyzed?

Peace, Paul

Peace Day

September 25, 2007

peace_dayOn Sunday Malu Aina joined the peace day parade and festival in Honokaa. That’s us in the white suits with the radiation symbol, finishing up. We went as citizen radiation monitors to help raise awareness about Depleted Uranium (DU).

Depleted Uranium is used in weapons for armor penetration. It is very hard and has many qualities desirable by the military. Unfortunately it is also a radioactive waste product which is pyrophoric. This means that as it heats up it aerosolizes and burns. As a result, small radioactive ceramic particles are released into the atmosphere, and carried on the wind like dust. As a fine particles they can easily be inhaled and lodge in the lungs or other parts of the body. Remember, these are radioactive particles that are potential lodging in the human body. They are ceramic as well, so they are neither absorbed nor broken down by the body.

There has been very little science done on the effects of DU exposure. However there seems to be a connection between DU and birth defects. DU appears to affect the reproductive cycle in some way that is not fully understood. There are many other negative health affects that may be associated with DU but the birth defects are the most disturbing.

Here is a short, powerful, disturbing film about Depleted Uranium.

Why is this an issue here in Hawaii? We are very militarized here. In the center of the Big Island is the Pohakuloa Training Area. This is a live fire range. The military has now confirmed that DU munitions have been used and found at Pohakuloa. This means personnel at Pohakuloa and those living downwind of the Training Area may be being exposed to DU.

Currently the military and the Health Department are doing very little to protect the Citizens of Hawaii. In fact they are working very hard to whitewash the issue. As we know from the Downwinders out west, those who lived downwind of the nuclear tests in the desert, it is up to us, the citizens, to protect ourselves. Neither the government nor the military will take responsibility for poisoning its citizens. This is not speculation; this is history.

Anyway, the event was a great success. We had fun and were able to distribute over 1000 flyers on this important health issue.

Peace, Paul

Buddhist Monks Continue Protests in Burma

September 24, 2007

MonksHere is news about the latest protests by monks in Burma. Burma is home to imprissoned Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi.

Monks’ Protest Is Challenging Burmese Junta

Peace, Paul

Another Full Week

September 23, 2007

It is hard to believe that another week has sped by. Once again the week has been full of activities. Much of the week was focused on the GMO struggle. GMOs (Genetically Modified Organism) are scary and potentially very dangerous products in the new field of genetic engineering. This is not hybridization or cross breeding. It is altering plants and other organisms at the genetic level by introducing new and often foreign genetic material. By new and foreign I mean cross species genetic modification — introducing animal genes into plants, particularly food crops.

There is very little research done on the effects of Genetic Engineering and what research is done, is being funded by the corporations who stand to profit from the sale of GMOs.

Of course once a life form is released into the wild you can’t recall it later. GMO corn or rice or potatoes or whatever, that are in the field now, can and will contaminate other non-gmo fields. There is no way to avoid contamination. If in 10 years we discover that a particular GMO poses significant health or environmental risks, there will be nothing that can be done about it. That plant will already exist in the wild. And I am sure that we are all aware at how difficult it is to control invasive species.

I did other things in addition to work on the GMO issue. I led services in Waimea on Wednesday. I attended a meeting of ICIA (Interfaith Communities in Action) on Thursday. I tabled at UHH’s peace day on Friday. And today, Saturday, I painted signs and made preparations for the Honokaa Peace Day and Festival on Sunday.

As always, the days are rounded out with and supported by daily religious services, silence, contemplation, and reading. Without this deep well to draw strength from, it would be easy to be defeated by the world. A world seemingly driven mad by greed and hatred. But in the struggle to live out a prayerful life, one action at a time, I also find strength, hope, and love in the world.

Peace, Paul

A Day on the Farm

September 18, 2007

Saturday, a group of us participated in Malu Aina’s volunteer day, half day really. The morning consisted of weeding the taro.jpgTaro Patch and planting several rows of beans. The work passed quickly and enjoyably with the assistance of many hands.

We were done by 11:30 am and returned to the main buildings just ahead of the rain. We finished the morning with a shared meal, delightful discussion, and some wonderful stories from Jim about past peace actions and demonstrations.

Peace, Paul

A Full Week

September 15, 2007

It has been a crazy week of activism and struggle. On Monday Judy and I attended the Malu Aina peace meeting in Keaau. Among other things we discussed how to respond if the U.S. attacks Iran.

On Tuesday we had the first Hawaii Seed Hilo area gathering. Hawaii seed is in the thick of the battle to protect our seeds and food from privatization by big corporations.

On Wednesday we drove up to Waimea to facilitate the weekly gathering of the Amida Waimea Sangha.

On Thursday, Dennis Kucinich was in Hilo so I went with some friends to hear him talk. In the meantime news arose of a hearing on Bio-Prospecting at UHH on Tuesday the 18th. If Bio-prospecting sounds scary, that’s because it is. Essentially it is prospecting for genetic material that can be patented and thereby owned by various entities. I don’t know about you, but I am not ready to allow profit driven entities get a hold of our common genetic heritage.

I have spent much of the day getting the word out about our emergency action meeting with Dr. Lorrin Pang, to get ready for the Bio-prospecting hearing on Tuesday. Shortly, I will be off to our weekly peace vigil. After that, a little fun, as I will have the good fortune to go night snorkeling with Judy.

All of this is sustained by daily Buddhist practice and services.

Peace, Paul

A Beginning!

September 15, 2007

Welcome to Paul’s new blog. I am Paul and I am blogging from the Big Island of Hawaii. In addition to being Paradise, Hawaii is also one of the most militirized states in the U.S.

Being Confronted by so much militarization and money makes Hawaii the perfect environment for experimenting with Satyagraha, truth force. Satyagraha is the working out of one’s sprituality in the context of a world filled with injustice, violence, and greed. It is compassion / love in action.