Thom Hartmann: ‘Free Trade’ has always been a scam…



From Thom Hartmann

The New Hampshire primary is now just one day away, and differences between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton couldn’t be clearer, especially when it comes to so-called free trade. While Secretary Clinton’s views on corporate-managed trade have changed a lot over the years, Bernie’s haven’t.

He opposes and has opposed every single one of the so-called free trade deals we’ve entered into since the 1980s. He also now says that he would reject the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, if elected president.

This is a big deal, and yet another sign that a Bernie Sanders presidency would do wonders for working Americans. Even so, the corporate media will probably still paint it as a dangerously radical move; an example of how Bernie Sanders is just too far out of the mainstream to be a viable candidate.

But here’s the thing: the idea that we can undo or reject bad so-called free trade agreements isn’t that radical. It’s actually pretty mainstream, or at least used to be.

WILLIAM EDELEN: President’s Day


The Contrary Minister

I cannot tell you how much I look forward to this annual event. Once a year it gives me an opportunity to relieve the ignorance and illiteracy of the general public on our first six founding presidents… who were not even remotely Christian, but humanists and deists.

When I used to do this show out of KGO in San Francisco… the switchboard would light up like a Christmas tree, with callers saying, “I have never heard that in school: Why are teachers to afraid to teach those facts… that are in their actual quotes?” Our omission and censorship of these historical facts to school children, and with the media to adults, is insulting and an embarrassment to any historically educated adult who knows the truth.

I have one bust in my study. It is of Jefferson. On the base are these words of his: “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” He uses the word “God” as a Deist, not as a Christian. A vast difference. He made this scathing statement aimed at the tyranny of the Christian Church. In a letter dated August 22, 1800, Dr. Benjamin Rush wrote Jefferson that “Republicanism should ally itself to the Christian religion in order to overturn all of the corrupted religions of the world.” Jefferson was appalled. He responded with his now famous “every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” including the tyranny of the Christian church.

Jefferson and John Adams, with James Madison, had almost a total contempt for Christian doctrine, dogma and superstitions.

Freethinker: Sick and Tired of ‘God Bless America’…



From NYT

The population of nonreligious Americans — including atheists, agnostics and those who call themselves “nothing in particular” — stands at an all-time high this election year. Americans who say religion is not important in their lives and who do not belong to a religious group, according to the Pew Research Center, have risen in numbers from an estimated 21 million in 2008 to more than 36 million now.

Despite the extraordinary swiftness and magnitude of this shift, our political campaigns are still conducted as if all potential voters were among the faithful. The presumption is that candidates have everything to gain and nothing to lose by continuing their obsequious attitude toward orthodox religion and ignoring the growing population of those who make up a more secular America.

Ted Cruz won in Iowa by expanding Republican voter turnout among the evangelical base. Donald J. Trump placed second after promising “to protect Christians” from enemies foreign and domestic. The third-place finisher Marco Rubio’s line “I don’t think you can go to church too often” might well have been the campaign mantra. Mr. Rubio was first christened a Roman Catholic, baptized again at the age of 8 into the Mormon Church, and now attends a Southern Baptist megachurch with his wife on Saturdays and Catholic Mass on Sundays.

Democrats are only a trifle more secular in their appeals. Hillary Clinton repeatedly refers to her Methodist upbringing, and even Bernie Sanders — a cultural Jew not known to belong to a synagogue — squirms when asked whether he believes in God. When Jimmy Kimmel posed the question, Mr. Sanders replied in a fog of words at odds with his usual blunt style: “I am who I am. And what I believe in and what my spirituality is about, is that we’re all in this together.” He once referred to a “belief in God” that requires him to follow the Golden Rule — a quote his supporters seem to trot out whenever someone suggests he’s an atheist or agnostic.

The question is not why nonreligious Americans vote for these candidates — there is no one on the ballot who full-throatedly endorses nonreligious humanism — but why candidates themselves ignore the growing group of secular voters.

Freethinker: The Rise of Arab Atheism…



From The New Humanist

Across the Middle East, governments are cracking down on non-belief. But Arab atheists are becoming more visible…

Religious disbelief is viewed with alarm in most Arab countries. Two government ministries in Egypt have been ordered to produce a national plan to “confront and eliminate” atheism. In Saudi Arabia, the most recent anti-terrorism law classifies “calling for atheist thought” as a terrorist offence.

This hounding of non-believers might seem especially strange at a time when concerns are high about those who kill in the name of religion, but Arab societies have a general aversion to nonconformity, and the regimes that rule them often promote an official version of Islam that suits their political needs. Thus both jihadism and atheism – though very different in character – are viewed as forms of social or political deviance, with fears raised in the Arab media that those who reject God and religion will bring chaos and immorality if their ideas gain a foothold.

In six Arab countries – Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen – apostasy is punishable by death. There have been no executions in recent years, but people deemed to have “insulted” religion, often in trivial ways, can face long prison sentences.

TODD WALTON: Calliope of Hope



Under The Table

On Saturday February 20 at 6:30 PM, I will be at Gallery Books in Mendocino reading from the new Counterpoint Press edition of my book Buddha In A Teacup. I self-published the book seven years ago, and now the book will have a life in the larger world, so to speak. The paperback of Buddha In A Teacup from Counterpoint is beautifully designed and fits well in the hand.

Speaking of self-publishing, I just completed my first large work of fiction since finishing the four volumes of the Ida’s Place saga, and the new tome is now available from my web site. As with the Ida’s Place quartet, I present Calliope of Hope tales of the road in a handsome coil-bound photocopy edition, each copy signed and colorfully numbered by yours truly.

Calliope of Hope—tales of the road is both a collection of short stories and a novel. Any of these stories may be read as a stand-alone work, or you may read the book from start to finish and experience the stories as chapters of a novel.

Part of the inspiration for Calliope of Hope came from the late poet and translator Taylor Stoehr who was keen for me to write a companion collection to Buddha In A Teacup with a Sufi bent, which many of the stories in Calliope of Hope have, and many of the stories involve hitchhiking.

Here is the beginning of one of the stories/chapters from Calliope of Hope entitled Henry’s Expotition.

WILL PARRISH: Feds May Use Eminent Domain to Build California Dam




Early last year, four US Bureau of Reclamation officials came to Anita Lodge’s seven-acre property deep in the San Joaquin River gorge, 33 miles northeast of Fresno. They explained in careful detail the legal process by which the federal government forces people to abandon their homes to make way for new infrastructure. A childhood picture of Lodge’s mother, who is buried on the land, loomed over the kitchen table where Lodge served her guests freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.

Lodge’s property would drown under three hundred feet of water if the state and federal governments construct Temperance Flat Dam, a roughly $3.3 billion undertaking sought for several decades by San Joaquin Valley agribusinesses, real estate developers, and Central Valley politicians. The 665-foot-high dam, which would be the fifth tallest in the nation, is one of several proposed water infrastructure projects that have gained popularity during the state’s epic four-year drought.

But Lodge, 59, has no interest in leaving, nor do other family members who reside just down the road. Seven generations of the Lodge and Woody families have lived on their riverfront spread, which is part of a much larger homestead that Lodge’s great, great grandparents acquired in the mid-19th century — most of which now resides in a federal wildlife reserve. For several summers in the 1950s, while Lodge’s father was building the house where she now lives, she camped out under the branches of a sprawling fig tree, listening to the roar of the river as raccoons nibbled on figs at the foot of her bed.

Whenever the government removes someone from a home, they are required to provide one of equal market value. But Lodge rejects the idea.

“How do you put a price tag on something like this?” she asked during a recent interview. “The family history is something you can’t replace.”

Bernie Hits The Street…



Thom Hartmann: If you want to win, go Progressive…



From Thom Hartmann

The big question right now is whether to call Hillary Clinton a progressive, or a “moderate.”

And then there’s the question of who is more electable in a general election: an unabashedly progressive democrat, like Bernie Sanders; or a “centrist” democrat, like Hillary Clinton.

Jonathan Capehart weighed in on the matter on Thursday morning’s edition of MSNBC Live with the claim that it will be important for Democrats to move to the center to win the general election – and he added that it will be easier for Hillary Clinton to do that.

It may be conventional wisdom that a candidate has to swing to the center to win in a general election. And that conventional wisdom has been central to the Democratic platform ever since Al From’s 1992 “bloodless coup” transformed the FDR/LBJ Democratic Party into the Clinton party of “centrist” corporatism.

But that conventional wisdom just doesn’t stand up to the scrutiny of history.

The truth is, Democrats win when voter turnout is high.

And voter turnout is high when voters have real progressive candidates to support.

Back in 2014, Democrats were devastated by the midterm election results – Republicans easily won control of the Senate and strengthened their majority in the House. In Arkansas, Republican Tom Cotton beat Democratic incumbent Mark Pryor by seven points to win a House seat; in Kentucky, Allison Lundergan Grimes lost to Mitch McConnell by over 15 points. In West Virginia, Wall Street darling and state GOP legacy Shelley Moore-Capito won the Senate seat that Democrat Jay Rockefeller had held for 30 years. Moore-Capito easily trounced West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, who ran as a so-called “centrist” democrat and campaigned against many of Obama’s policies -just like Grimes had run away from Obama on guns.

Thom Hartmann: Americans Are Running Away From the Corporate Media…



From Thom Hartmann

Monday night was a great night for Bernie Sanders and his supporters. Bernie pointed out in his speech Monday night that the people of Iowa sent a profound message to the rest of the country by turning out in droves to support Bernie’s vision for a “political revolution.” He’s right – the people of Iowa have sent a profound message to the political and media establishment in this country.

So how did Bernie Sanders go from polling at around 5% in Iowa when he announced his candidacy – to only losing because of a series of coin tosses? It’s because people are actually able to hear his message – whether the establishment wants them to or not. It’s because he talks about the issues that impact the people who used to make up the middle class in this country. And, because it resonates with people who have never participated in an election – people who look at our bought-off politicians and have been disgusted with politics in America.

The truth is, Bernie Sanders wouldn’t be neck and neck with Hillary Clinton right now if people were forced to depend on the major corporate news networks. They wouldn’t even know who he is except for the fact that he’s over 70 years old and a self-described “democratic socialist.” But thanks to the internet and social media – it’s probably the first election ever that voters can completely go around the corporate media to learn about the issues that they care about – and where the candidates stand on them.

Seriously, Bernie Sanders received LESS THAN 10 minutes of coverage between CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, and ABC World News, COMBINED up until December.

GENE LOGSDON: Small Scale Farming Really Isn’t Small



The Contrary Farmer

​Economists sanctify expansion in agriculture as the way farmers survive but in the very act of saying that, they are also pointing out why farmers don’t survive. If all the land is occupied, for every farm that expands, another ceases to exist. So it would be just as accurate to say that expansion is the way farmers don’t survive. And that leaves us in a situation where, according to the statistics, as quoted in a new, soon- to- be- published book, Miraculous Abundance, some 80% of the arable land on the planet used in intensive mechanized agriculture is owned by multinational corporations. Meanwhile, the proponents of big farming continue to flaunt their challenge: “get big or get out.” When all the land is owned by one big corporation and it still doesn’t make enough of a profit to satisfy the stockholders, what then?

​As a matter of fact, small commercial farms and so-called hobby farms are on the rise again and whether or not they are profitable by today’s money standards, they are generating a lot of other economic activity which in aggregate becomes quite significant. These farmers are creating a different economic model than that of industrial production. They are successful because they really aren’t about how much money they can make but how much of what they do make they can keep in their pockets while they spend their time doing what they really want to do in life. As they proceed, they generate all sorts of other small businesses and avocations that in turn prompt more small business. The sum total amounts to big business. For example, judging from the exhibits at our county fair, looks like there are more goats on farms now than cows. And who would ever have thought that kale would become a cash crop and soul food of America?

‘Single Payer Saves Money by Saying No to the Insurance Industry’…




CounterSpin interview with Steffie Woolhandler on media attacks on single payer

Janine Jackson: A Washington Post columnist writes that we need to admit that healthcare reform’s twin goals, comprehensive universal insurance and cost control, are at odds. The New York Times reports that a single-payer system requires unpopular taxes, making it, even in the eyes of sympathetic Democrats, politically impossible. And USA Today says the US hasn’t seriously considered single payer because it would cause great disruption to the economy, result in higher taxes, and give the federal government vast new powers.

Well, those claims have some things in common: They’re all untrue, and they’ll all from 1993. It seems the story corporate media tell us about single payer—we want it, it makes a lot of sense, and it can never ever happen—hasn’t changed a great deal. For as long as that media narrative has been abroad, we’ve been checking in with our next guest about how to address it. A primary care physician for many years, Steffie Woolhandler is co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program and professor at the CUNY School of Public Health.

Welcome back to CounterSpin, Steffie Woolhandler.

Steffie Woolhandler: My pleasure.

JJ: Single payer is in headlines now because of the election, and the alternative visions for healthcare presented by Democratic candidates Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton. Sanders’ proposal of a single-payer type of system makes him “exciting,” the Washington Post said, but Clinton’s attempt to “bat down hopes” about it make her “the voice of reason.” The Arizona Republic says:

The problem with Bernie Sanders’ healthcare vision isn’t the vision. His raw outline for a greatly simplified and less expensive healthcare system is excellent in theory. The problem is the politics, the reality of which battle-scarred Hillary Clinton clearly has the better grasp.

This whole head versus heart storyline isn’t really new, either, is it? What’s your initial response to it; what’s wrong with that?

SW: Well, there’s a tremendous amount of misinformation. We have real-world experience with a single-payer program in Canada. We also have some related experience with our own Medicare program; that’s kind of a partial single payer. It’s obviously not a true single payer, because there’s lots of other insurers, but it has some of the structures of single payer. And so we can look at the experience in Canada and in the United States, and find that most of these things are not true.

The Danger of Being in a Box and Why it Makes Sense When You are in it…


From Bruce Gerencser

I was a Christian for most of my life, a pastor for most of my adult life. I was a fervent believer of the faith once delivered to the saints. I believed it, practiced it, and lived it. When I was in the Christian box, it all made sense to me. Everything I read, everything I heard, and everything I experienced, reinforced the belief that I was in the right box.

God told me, the Bible told me, my friends and family told me, and the opposition of the world told me, that I was in the right box. Every once in a while I would take one step outside the box and experience a bit of “other-boxedness.”  After every foray into the world outside the Christian box, I would return to the safety of the box.

This is the way I lived my life for  five decades. Then one day, I decided to take more than one step outside of the box. I haltingly, tentatively took a few steps, staying close enough to the box that I could run back if I needed to.

Over time, I wandered farther and farther away from the box. I found all kinds of things that were not  in the box I was in. I was confronted with data, beliefs, ideologies, facts, and practices that I had never heard of. I was uncertain about what I should make of these new-found things.

I talked to fellow box-keepers about this. They cautioned me about wandering outside of the box. Nothing good happens outside of the box, Bruce. Everything we need for life and godliness is right here in the box. We even have a manual that tells us how to live in the box.

But I continued to wander outside of the box. One day, I wandered so far outside the box that I realized, for the first time, that the box sat on a steep, slippery hill. And there were other boxes too, all of them on that same slippery hill. The first time I noticed this, I quickly retreated to the safety of the box. Then one day, I found myself far outside the box. I turned around to look longingly at the box and I slipped, and before I knew it I was slipping and sliding down the slippery hill. On this day I fought and clawed my way back up the hill and I crawled back to the box. Dirty and bruised, I was safe within the box once again. The box was my salvation.

Thom Hartmann: “Groups Like Wounded Warrior Project Should Not Exist!”…



An Unprecedented Threat to Privacy…



From The Atlantic

A private company has captured 2.2 billion photos of license plates in cities throughout America. It stores them in a database, tagged with the location where they were taken. And it is selling that data.

Throughout the United States—outside private houses, apartment complexes, shopping centers, and businesses with large employee parking lots—a private corporation, Vigilant Solutions, is taking photos of cars and trucks with its vast network of unobtrusive cameras. It retains location data on each of those pictures, and sells it.It’s happening right now in nearly every major American city.The company has taken roughly 2.2 billion license-plate photos to date. Each month, it captures and permanently stores about 80 million additional geotagged images. They may well have photographed your license plate. As a result, your whereabouts at given moments in the past are permanently stored. Vigilant Solutions profits by selling access to this data (and tries to safeguard it against hackers). Your diminished privacy is their product. And the police are their customers.

The company counts 3,000 law-enforcement agencies among its clients. Thirty thousand police officers have access to its database. Do your local cops participate?

 If you’re not sure, that’s typical. To install a GPS tracking device on your car, your local police department must present a judge with a rationale that meets a Fourth Amendment test and obtain a warrant. But if it wants to query a database to see years of data on where your car was photographed at specific times, it doesn’t need a warrant––just a willingness to send some of your tax dollars to Vigilant Solutions, which insists that license plate readers are “unlike GPS devices, RFID, or other technologies that may be used to track.” Its website states that “LPR is not ubiquitous, and only captures point in time information. And the point in time information is on a vehicle, not an individual.”

But thanks to Vigilant, its competitors, and license-plate readers used by police departments themselves, the technology is becoming increasingly ubiquitous over time. And Supreme Court jurisprudence on GPS tracking suggests that repeatedly collecting data “at a moment in time” until you’ve built a police database of 2.2 billion such moments is akin to building a mosaic of information so complete and intrusive that it may violate the Constitutional rights of those subject to it.

The company dismisses the notion that advancing technology changes the privacy calculus in kind, not just degree. An executive told The Washington Post that its approach “basically replaces an old analog function—your eyeballs,” adding, “It’s the same thing as a guy holding his head out the window, looking down the block, and writing license-plate numbers down and comparing them against a list. The technology just makes things better and more productive.” By this logic, Big Brother’s network of cameras and listening devices in 1984 was merely replacing the old analog technologies of eyes and ears in a more efficient manner, and was really no different from sending around a team of alert humans.

The vast scale of Vigilant’s operations is detailed in documents obtained through public-records laws by the New York Civil Liberties Union. “Last year, we learnedthat the NYPD was hoping to enter into a multi-year contract that would give it access to the nationwide database of license plate reader data,” the civil-liberties group announced Monday in a blog post linking to the document. “Now, through a Freedom of Information Law request, the NYCLU has obtained the final versionof the $442,500 contract and the scope-of-work proposal that gives a peek into the ever-widening world of surveillance made possible by Vigilant.”

William Edelen: James Madison on Christianity…


The Contrary Minister

“During almost 15 centuries, the legal establishment of Christianity has been on trial. What have been the fruits? These are the fruits, more or less, in all places: pride and indolence in the clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity and in both clergy and laity superstition, bigotry and persecution.”

James Madison, the father of the Constitution, presented this opinion on Christianity to the General Assembly of Virginia in 1785. Madison, our fourth president, continues: “What influence in fact have Christian ecclesiastical establishments had on civil society? In many instances they have been upholding the thrones of political tyranny. In no instance have they been seen as the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wished to subvert the public liberty have found in the clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate liberty, does not need the clergy.”

In Virginia, the Episcopal Church was established. In 1744 Christians of all other sects were being arrested and persecuted. Madison addressed that septic situation in these words: “That diabolical, hell conceived, principle of persecution rages, and to their eternal infamy, the clergy can furnish their quota of imps for such a business.”

In a Tiny House Village, Portland’s Homeless Find Dignity…



From YES!

As cities search for solutions to homelessness, Portland’s Dignity Village offers 60 men and women community and safety.

On a frigid January morning, a tour through Portland’s Dignity Village follows the same path its residents are required to travel. All were, or are, homeless.

Newcomers to this homeless refuge huddle in the warming station, a small portable with photos of smiling former residents and where they are required to stay during a 60-day probationary period.

They hope to graduate to a small makeshift home like Karen, a three-month resident whose boisterous laugh carries through the village.

Should it become a permanent home, they may find themselves in the position of Rick Proudfoot, a longtime resident who works in the site’s main office, keeping track of finances.

If they’re really lucky, they may end up like Lisa Larson, Dignity Village’s CEO.

“There’s a real sense of pride here, a real sense of community that you don’t find elsewhere.”

A peppy forty-something, she’s lived at Dignity Village the last six years after falling into homelessness to escape an abusive husband. She initially thought she’d stay no more than a few months. Today, Larson, who has been in her position for a year, can’t imagine living anywhere else.

“There’s a real sense of pride here, a real sense of community that you don’t find elsewhere,” she says.

A Humanist Discusses Her Path to Humanism…



From The Humanist

I WAS SIX YEARS OLD and stricken with grief over the recent death of my dearly beloved dog. Our minister dropped by to visit my mother, and I asked him to tell me how I would meet my dog again in heaven. He said I would not meet my dog in heaven, because animals have no souls and God does not allow them in. I would, however, meet all my dear relatives in heaven, and wasn’t that nice?

I was horrified. I tried to negotiate. I said I’d be willing to trade a couple of aunts and uncles for my dog, if God could perhaps make an exception for me. The minister said no. God would never haggle. At last I stamped my foot and said I thought God was mean, and I didn’t want to go to his nasty old petless heaven anyway, and I ran away crying.

My embarrassed mother made me come back and apologize, but my heart wasn’t in it. I detested the minister from that day onward. Furthermore, what I learned about God in Sunday school did little to improve my opinion of him. For instance, why would a purportedly loving and all-powerful father have to make his son die a cruel death before he got willing to forgive people? Why didn’t he just forgive them right off? And if he did agree to forgive them after the son’s death, why was he still sending people to his super-sadistic hell to suffer for all eternity? (I had a Catholic playmate who informed me that everybody in my family would go to hell anyway, because we went to the wrong church. Her parochial-school “sister” said so.)

I was a nuisance in Sunday school. I asked the teacher many questions, but I got no answers, only scoldings. I learned that questioning was evil, and that I must simply believe everything I was told, because that was God’s rule. Worst of all, I would be expected to become a cannibal and consume the actual flesh and blood of poor dead Jesus, whose gory demise was shown to us children in a life-size painting. The whole idea gave me an uncomfortable feeling of nausea.

Born on this Day: Saul Alinsky


sFrom The Freethinker

“If you think you’ve got an inside track to absolute truth, you become doctrinaire, humorless and intellectually constipated. The greatest crimes in history have been perpetrated by such religious and political and racial fanatics.”

Those words, in a Playboy interview in 1972, were spoken by the great 20th-century community organiser Saul David Alinsky, who was born on January 30, 1909, in a Chicago slum to Russian Jewish immigrant parents.

Alinsky said in the same interview that his parents “were strict orthodox; their whole life revolved around work and synagogue.”

When asked if he was a devout Jew as a boy, Alinsky responded: “I suppose I was – until I was about 12. I was brainwashed, really hooked. But then I got afraid my folks were going to try to turn me into a rabbi, so I went through some pretty rapid withdrawal symptoms and kicked the habit”

Alinsky majored in archaeology at the University of Chicago, but after two years of graduate study he dropped out to work as a criminologist for the state of Illinois. In the mid-1930s, he started working with the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), and became a close friend of John L. Lewis.

Alinsky shifted from labour to community organising in 1939, focusing first on improving the impoverished slums he grew up in. In 1940, millionaire Marshall Field III provided Alinsky funds to start the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), which grew into a prominent training institute for radical community organisers across the country.

TODD WALTON: Suffering Fools


We've Traded Places Times Before

We’ve Traded Places Times Before painting by Nolan Winkler

Under The Table

“Life is a long lesson in humility.” James Barrie

My friend John Grimes, the cartoonist, recently sent me an article from the Washington Post about Sarah Palin’s endorsement of Donald Trump for President of the United States. The writer of the article suggests that since both Palin and Trump are Reality Television stars, this endorsement furthers the frightening trend of American politics becoming little more than a media circus designed to numb the populous while aggrandizing the stand-ins for the despots.

But I think there is something else going on here with Trump and Palin, something much older and deeper than Reality Television, though directly connected to the televisionization of our culture and society, which has made us, more than ever before, the victims of aggressive extroverts who seem to be developmentally arrested somewhere between the ages of four and ten.

When I was in Sixth Grade, a decade or two before the introduction of Ritalin and other pharmaceuticals into mainstream-education class management, there were two kids in our class, Charlie and Amy, who were both so impulsive, loud, and disruptive, our well-meaning teacher was nearly powerless to control them. And even when Charlie and Amy were not acting out, we expected them to explode at any moment, so our classroom experience was about surviving Charlie and Amy, not about learning. Sadly, these two were not smart or creative or interesting. On the contrary, they were infantile and abusive—Trump and Palin.

Brenda Ueland: The Art of Listening…



From Brenda Upland (1891 – 1985)
Author of If You Want To Write

It is through this creative process
that we at once love and are loved

I want to write about the great and powerful thing that listening is. And how we forget it. And how we don’t listen to our children, or those we love. And least of all – which is so important, too – to those we do not love. But we should. Because listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. Think how the friends that really listen to us are the ones we move toward, and we want to sit in their radius as though it did us good, like ultraviolet rays.

This is the reason: When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand. Ideas actually begin to grow within us and come to life. You know how if a person laughs at your jokes you become funnier and funnier, and if he does not, every tiny little joke in you weakens up and dies. Well, that is the principle of it. It makes people happy and free when they are listened to. And if you are a listener, it is the secret of having a good time in society (because everybody around you becomes lively and interesting), of comforting people, of doing them good.

Who are the people, for example, to whom you go for advice? Not to the hard, practical ones who can tell you exactly what to do, but to the listeners; that is, the kindest, least censorious, least bossy people you know. It is because by pouring out your problem to them, you then know what to do about it yourself.

When we listen to people there is an alternating current that recharges us so we never get tired of each other. We are constantly being re-created.


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