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October Book Review: The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption by Dahr Jamail

 

As an admirer and preserver of nature, I found Dahr Jamail’s The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption pertinent, engaging and beautifully written. Attacking a very difficult subject to ponder (much less write about), Jamail weaved his personal experiences from climbing Denali Mountain in Alaska with climate science and what ensued is a very thoughtful and poignant book.

Interviewing experts in perspective places on earth who have watched and experienced the changes of our climate occur over decades, Jamail discusses the melting of the ice caps, glaciers, and permafrost in Greenland and in the Arctic; the rising of sea levels worldwide; the dying Great Barrier Reef; the warming of our oceans, including the numerous loss of marine life; the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest and ramifications thereof; the loss of habitat in forests; the extinction of millions of species; the sinking of coastal cities, islands, and towns; the feedback loops already occurring; and more.  He also explains how all of this is and will continue to gravely affect all animal, plant, and human communities worldwide. He includes a chapter on grieving for what has happened (and what might occur) and ends his book with a question for all of us: “Knowing what is happening to the planet, to what do [we] devote [our lives]?”

The urgency of acting to combat the worldwide major problem of climate change cannot be overstated. It is absolutely vital that we take part in doing everything we can to stop (or at least slow down) the process of climate change for our survival. At the rate we are living life, our children and grandchildren will not have enough water, clean air to breathe, or an inhabitable planet in which to live. We must change our energy system to green/clean energy, and we must stop consuming animals (animal agriculture is the second largest contributor to human-made greenhouse gas emissions after fossil fuels and is a leading cause of deforestation, water, air pollution, and biodiversity loss).

I urgently recommend The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption by Dahr Jamail to anyone interested in the science of climate change, the student of environmental science, activists for planet Earth, and to anyone who cares about our future as a species. It is well written and well documented.

A bit about the author, Dahr Jamail:Dahr_Jamail

Dahr Jamail, an accomplished mountaineer who has worked as a volunteer rescue ranger on Denali, is the winner of the Izzy Award for excellence in journalism and the recipient of the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, and winner of other awards.  As an accomplished reporter who spent more than a year reporting from Iraq, he is also the author of three other books: Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq; The Will to Resist: Soldiers who Refuse to Fight in Iraq or Afghanistan; and The Mass Destruction of Iraq: Disintegration of a Nation (co-authored with William Rivers Pitt).

Dahr lives in the state of Washington. Denali is still his favorite mountain to climb.

To purchase a copy of The End of Ice: Bearing Witness and Finding Meaning in the Path of Climate Disruption by Dahr Jamail, visit: DahrJamail.net.

 

 


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My Voice Matters: A letter from an Immigrant to Bernie Sanders

I wrote this in 2016 when Bernie was still in the running for president of the United States. This blog is even more pertinent today. Bernie has my vote in 2020!

Dearest Bernie,

You have truly done it.

I have not been one to get heavily involved in politics, but this year, I couldn’t help myself. The reason is you, Bernie Sanders.  You have reminded me that I have a voice, and my voice is heard.

You need to know, Mr. Sanders, that in the past, my voice shattered when I spoke. I stuttered badly as a child, because I was not secure in my skin. I grew up in an upper middle class neighborhood in California as part of a working poor class family. My family and I were considered strange – Mexicans that were a nuisance who would not amount to anything (even though we were Argentine; no offense to anyone who is Mexican or Hispanic reading this). I did not feel accepted, liked, normal, and especially, heard. I had no voice then. It was not until decades later…

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Letting Go…

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I live in a neighborhood full of deer.

I often have to watch out for them as I drive to and fro, so I don’t hit them with my car. In February, in the ice and snow and sometimes bitter cold, the mother deer watch their fawns stroll across the street, hoping they are not harmed. It is truly a beautiful sight to embrace, a moment that stops my racing thoughts and reminds me of the mystery of life.

As I observe these precious animals walking in front of my car, I take a peek at their concerned mothers off the road nearby; they are watching with anticipation and wondering, “Is my baby going to make it?” They know they have to allow them to walk across the street knowing they cannot always protect them from harm.

I’m also a mother.  I relate to the mother deer.  And, I am now at a point in my life where I have to watch my baby cross the street by herself, and I have to let go.

As a mom, I’ve always cherished the short car ride up the long hill in my neighborhood on school mornings. I have driven my baby to school for eleven years.  These days, my seventeen-year-old and I sometimes talk. We are sometimes silent, and that is okay.  Grade school, middle school, and high school in wind, snow, ice, rain, and sun, we have made it to school, despite the deer. Each school just happens to be farther in distance from the house, and we’ve mostly taken the easiest route available that led us to all three schools. When I drove her to her first day in grade school, I knew that one day it would be our last time driving to that school, and then months later, I would be driving father away, to the next school. Soon, the day will come when I will drive my young adult to her last day in high school. It is coming, and I can’t avoid it.

Little shoes, pretty dresses, big backpacks, crayons, and smiles in grade school – 5 minute drive.

Friends, sleepovers, crushes, and new music in middle school – 7 minute drive.

Cell phones, Snap Chat, raw emotions, first loves, and the beginning of independence in high school – 10 minute drive.

(And, she has never wanted to wear a coat!)

Life happens. It changes and we have to let go. We have to embrace it. We have no choice, really.  Somehow, we have to find the strength to believe that if we let go, it will be okay.

To know that I have done my best in the situation I had…

To know that I have allowed my fawn be herself always…

To know that I have guided my fawn to be kind, to be considerate, to be compassionate…

To know that I have watched my fawn work hard towards her goals and dreams…

To know that I have watched my fawn learn that life is not perfect, that it is unpredictable, that it can be amazing and also heart-wrenching…

To know that I have taught my fawn to avoid what harms, what is dangerous, what will hurt her…

To know that I have guided my fawn to be humble, encouraging, and loving…

To know that I have witnessed my fawn to give it all she has…

To know that I have taught my fawn to cross the street after looking both ways…

To know that I have loved my fawn with all of my heart…

Is to know that I have not failed.

It is to know that this is life. It is to know that life is about letting go.

© 2019, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com

 

 


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Check out this TED Talk

I watched this TED Talk by the founder of the #MeToo movement and thought you would find it interesting.

Tarana Burke: Me Too is a movement, not a moment
https://go.ted.com/C5MD

Learn more about watching TED Talks on all of your favorite platforms: https://www.ted.com/about/programs-initiatives/ted-talks/ways-to-get-ted-talks


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February Book Review: Stolen Girls: Survivors of Boko Haram Tell Their Story by Wolfgang Bauer

Did you know there is a very violent group called Boko Haram (meaning “Western education is forbidden”) in Nigeria kidnapping women and girls for the purpose of converting them to radical Islam? The Boko Haram refers to themselves as the “Group of People for Sunnah for the Preaching of Islam and Jihad.” Their goal is to overthrow the Nigerian government and create an Islamic state. The fight has been going on since 2014, and they are a sector of ISIS. In the words of Boko Haram’s former leader Abubakar Shekau in 2014, “My brothers you should take slaves. I kidnapped girls from a school, and you are irritated. I say, we must stop the spread of Western education. I kidnapped the girls. I will sell them at the market with Allah’s help. There is a market where one can sell humans. Allah has told me to sell them [my emphasis]. He commands me to sell them. I sell women. I sell women.”

In award-winning reporter Wolfgang Bauer’s Stolen Girls: Survivors of Boko Haram Tell Their Story, you will find heart-breaking interviews with the female survivors of Boko Haram raids, killings, and kidnappings. These women and girls were taken from their homes in Chibok, and forced into the swamps of the Sambisa forest in northern Nigeria. Some of the girls were as young as nine years old.  If they did not convert to Islam and participate in prayers and rituals, they were killed. They tell their heart-wrenching stories of how they were captured, abused, forced to watch beheadings of men and women, and how they survived after escaping by living under thick-brushed trees in the jungle.

Adult men were immediately shot when Boko Haram raided a village, and young boys were kidnapped and taught to fight for the radical group. In mid 2014, Boko Haram decided to attach bombs to mostly young women under loose dresses so they were unseen. Some of the women did not understand that they were being used as suicide bombers.  In addition, Wolfgang Bauer also talks a bit about the history and politics of Nigeria and the Boko Haram, which I found very helpful and interesting. The Nigerian military and security forces fought Boko Haram, but some of those fighters became corrupted. Eventually, the terrorists entered northern Cameroon, Niger, and Chad, and then the United States became involved by sending troops. As of February, 2018, the fight to remove Boko Haram from Nigeria continues, although some control has been regained. In terms of the number of people it has killed, Boko Haram has been called the world’s deadliest terrorist group to date. They occupied a fifth of Nigeria in just a few months in 2014.

I recommend Wolfgang Bauer’s Stolen Girls: Survivors of Boko Haram Tell Their Story to anyone interested in current Nigerian politics, ISIS, radical Islam, or human rights. Although this book is very difficult to read, it is vital to understanding the extreme insanity of radical Islam, Jihad (a holy war waged on behalf of Islam as a religious duty), and the violence perpetuated by Boko Haram and ISIS.

A bit about the author, Wolfgang Bauer:Reporter Wolfgang Bauer

Passionate about human rights, Wolfgang Bauer began his career as a freelance reporter in 1994, after studying history, geography, and Islamic studies at the University of Tubingen.  Today, he works for the leading weekly German newspaper Die Zeit, covering the Middle East and Africa. His reporting on Boko Haram has won him the prestigious Nannen Prize in 2016 in Germany as well as the Bayeau-Calvados Prize for War Correspondents in France. He is also author of Crossing the Sea: With Syrians on the Exodus to Europe, which has been translated into twelve languages. He lives in Reutlingen near Stuttgart, Germany.

To learn more about Wolfgang Bauer, visit Wolfgang-Bauer.info. To purchase Stolen Girls: Survivors of Boko Haram Tell Their Story, visit Amazon.

© 2018, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com

 

 

 


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Be A Lady They Said

Today, I am forwarding a blog that succinctly recaps what women experience since birth until they die. It is creative, short, and speaks for itself. Thank you, Camille Rainville, for writing it! Enjoy.

Writings of a Furious Woman

Be a lady they said. Your skirt is too short. Your shirt is too low. Your pants are too tight. Don’t show so much skin. Don’t show your thighs. Don’t show your breasts. Don’t show your midriff. Don’t show your cleavage. Don’t show your underwear. Don’t show your shoulders. Cover up. Leave something to the imagination. Dress modestly. Don’t be a temptress. Men can’t control themselves. Men have needs. You look frumpy. Loosen up. Show some skin. Look sexy. Look hot. Don’t be so provocative. You’re asking for it. Wear black. Wear heels. You’re too dressed up. You’re too dressed down. Don’t wear those sweatpants; you look like you’ve let yourself go.

Be a lady they said. Don’t be too fat. Don’t be too thin. Don’t be too large. Don’t be too small. Eat up. Slim down. Stop eating so much. Don’t eat too fast. Order a salad. Don’t eat…

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January Book Review: Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit (And Join the 2018 Women’s March)

I used to think feminists were insane. I actually thought they were overblown, volatile, and superfluous and – get this, “asking for it.” I thought they hated men. I thought they wanted to destroy men. And, as ignorant as a turnip, I thought feminists were Satanists. (Gulp. Did I actually admit that?)

It was what I was taught. Until, I decided to think for myself.

After years of life’s experiences and recovering from my indoctrination, I realized what I believed was not true. The truth is some men hate women, want to control them, and even silence them. Why else would they do what they do to women? Did you know that one in three women will be raped in her lifetime; a woman is beaten every nine seconds in the United States; and if that were not appalling enough, spouses are the leading cause of death of pregnant women (again in the U.S)? I came to the conclusion that I agree with author Rebecca Solnit: “We treat the physical assault and the silencing after as two separate things, but they are [the same], both bent on annihilation [of women].”

Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit is a short compilation of seven brilliant essays covering how men literally explain things to women, the global injustice and violence women face, a compelling reiteration of the insidious cultural beliefs that make women invisible, thoughts on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and its downfalls, an examination and commentary of twentieth century feminist Virginia Woolf’s take on mystery and ambiguity, the fight for marriage equality for the LGBTQ community, and a final essay on how men who get it know that feminism is not a scheme to deprive men but a campaign to liberate us all.

I found Solnit’s Men Explain Things to Me fascinating, engaging, and creative. Her writing is first rate. I highly recommend this reading to anyone interested in feminine theory, the violence women experience, or patriarchy.

A bit about the author, Rebecca Solnit:rebeccasolnit-Flickr_Shawn_Calhoun

Rebecca Solnit is a best-selling writer on various subjects. An activist, feminist, and historian, she is the author of twenty books about civil society, popular power, uprisings, art, indigenous history, environment, pleasure, social change and insurrection, politics, hope and disaster, memory, and most recently The Mother of All Questions. She is also a Harper’s contributing editor. Rebecca is a product of the California public education system from kindergarten to graduate school.

To learn more about Rebecca Solnit, or to purchase Men Explain Things to Me, visit her website, RebeccaSolnit.net.

Women's March

Women’s March, Washington DC, January, 2017

Join the Women’s March on January 20th or 21st, 2018, at a city near you. The mission of Women’s March is to harness the political power of diverse women and their communities to create transformative social change. Women’s March is a women-led movement providing intersectional education on a diverse range of issues and creating entry points for new grassroots activists and organizers to engage in their local communities through trainings, outreach programs, and events. Women’s March believes women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights. We must create a society in which women – including black women, native women, poor women, immigrant women, disabled women, Muslim women, lesbian queer and trans women – are free and able to care for and nurture their families in safe and healthy environments free from structural impediments. Download the full vision and principles of Woman’s March PDF here.

For more information, visit WomensMarch.com.

To join a march in your area on January 20th, visit PowertothePolls.com/anniversary.

Or, to join the march in Las Vegas on January 21st, visit PowertothePolls.com.

For further reading on the treatment of women, read my other blog, #MeToo.

© 2018, Vilma Reynoso, vilmareynoso.com