Tag Archives: Peace Corps

Push Russia

How  to push Russia…

Recently National Public Radio commented that congressional candidates were debating about whether to campaign on the issues surrounding “Russia” in their upcoming elections

Why not “leapfrog” the typical Russian issues and press Russia, the U.S., and the world to do what world affairs and an angry Mother Nature is inconveniently demanding we do — dramatically expand our peaceful national service programs,  like Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Habitat, Doctors Without Borders, Head Start, Mercy Corps, Oxfam, Americans Friends Service Committee, TechnoServe, Heifer, Red Cross, International Rescue Committee, State Conservation Corps, In-Need Schools, Hospitals Therapy Wards, Homes For The Elderly, etc.?

Then challenge Russia to create their own “Russian Peace Corps.”

In front of the world, urge Russia and the US to serve together doing Joint Peace Corps projects throughout the world, especially in those parts of the world where our sabers rattle too closely to theirs. Think Russian-US peaceful cooperation unlikely?  Look at our Space Station work.

We were once close to implementing a joint U.S.-Russian Peace Corps.  Let the visionary in Congress reintroduce an updated version of visionary  Congresswoman Boxer’s HR1807 of 1989.

John Kennedy would smile on those with the vision and insight to challenge the Russians to join us in peaceful development endeavors.  In addition, it would do wonders for improving our politics, public policy IQ, and standing in the world, while avoiding trillions of warfare dollars over the decades.

This wise talk about Russia would be a smart addition to any congressional campaign.

This…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or this?

DC9-16

The American World Service Corps National Service  (AWSCNS) Congressional Proposal  opens up filled jobs, provides new jobs, trains and educates for the environmentally beneficial jobs and needs of the future, makes stronger friends and neighbors with enhanced civic IQs.

Over ten years ago, People’s Lobby started working on the AWSCNS Congressional Proposal with a unanimous endorsement from the 2006 California State Democratic Convention.

This Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (RPCV) did not think that a decade later I’d still be pushing to enact this needed, overwhelmingly good, and cost effective piece of legislation.

The AWSCNS would ramp up over seven years by adding about 150,000 paid volunteers per year.  In the seventh year, one million volunteers would serve annually through already effective do-good organizations, such as the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Habitat, Doctors Without Borders, Head Start, Mercy Corps, Oxfam, Americans Friends Service Committee, TechnoServe, Heifer, Red Cross, International Rescue Committee, State Conservation Corps, In-Need Schools, Hospitals Therapy Wards, Homes for the Elderly, etc.  After 20 years of one million serving annually, directly addressing needs, and building sustainability, Congress would consider the AWSCNS for sun-setting after its 27th year.

In 2009 Congress implemented the Ted Kennedy Serve America Act.  Nonetheless, even at its proposed unmet largest, the Kennedy Serve America Act is 1/4th the size of what is called for in the AWSCNS Proposal,  and, as we warned, its budget was whittled on soon after memories of Senator Ted Kennedy faded.

Could you set up a time to meet with the Senato/Congressman, Chief of Staff, Legislative Director, or appropriate senior staffer during the week of September 18th-24th in hopes of building additional support for the AWSCNS Proposal?

The AWSC National Service Proposal would stimulate and strengthen America’s ability to peacefully and economically solve problems.  With its proposed coming-of-age non-traditional funding mechanisms moved further along by Gates and Buffet pushing their Giving Pledge, enacting teh proposed AWSCNS  could cost effectively involve the richest .1% in voluntarily building worldwide sustainability.  A summary of some of these benefits is here.

For a PowerPoint overview of the essence of the AWSCNS Proposal, view the first 12 slides at this link.

When I discuss the details of the AWSCNS Proposal to large audiences, they overwhelmingly support it.  It would do the same among the constituent audiences of those visionary congresspersons who push, introduce, and support it.

Included in the AWSCNS Proposal is a call for other nations to deploy their own similar armies peacefully on the battlefields of need.  In 1989 People’s Lobby was instrumental in moving visionary Congresswoman Boxer to introduce HR 1807, calling for the creation of a US-USSR Peace Corps.  Recently, we have asked her to do it again before she retires, but her ride into the sunset may be too close.

Therefore, we’d like to see whether you would be interested in resurrecting this visionary piece of HR1807 legislation.  Imagine how much more beneficial Bear and Eagle relations would be today if 20,000+ Americans, Soviet Unioners, and Russians had served together by 2016. View 8 slides on the US-Russian Peace Corps here.

It is never too late to start something that could do a lot of good. Investing in volunteers in do-good groups in turbulent political and climate challenged environments often returns the most good, especially in communities with needs.

We look forward to meeting with you or appropriate DC staff in September.  Thanks.

Dwayne Hunn Ph.D.

People’s Lobby Executive Director

415-383-7880

Represented by Congressman Huffman, California’s 2nd

Xmas 2015

santa sleighHello friend!

May you and yours have good health well beyond this Holiday Season.

Although she still mails Christmas cards, my sister now has a computer thanks to Lighthouse for the Blind.  She also has volunteer Spencer, the solar guy, who brings some levity and sunshine into her life as he reads her internet stuff, emails, and wonders about her weird friends…

She recently beat back a cancer scare, as she continues being the trooper pushing her walker and tipping the army of taxicab drivers (sorry Uber) that shuttle her to University of San Francisco lectures, medical checkups, and meetings with her friends in town.

For me, there may not be a Habitat build on this year’s list thanks to bone on bone right shoulder and a rotator cuff tear, which I always thought belonged to those Moby-ized pitchers who flung hard from the starboard..

Most of you who are reading this have been exposed to Christian traditions, especially during this Holiday Season.  You know that Jesus was raised by an adopted father, Joseph, a ”Teckton,” or builder.  Joseph was a stonemason, carpenter, or likely combination of the two.  He built stuff, likely housing, perhaps so future families would not have to be born in mangers.

Christ in the House of His Parents ('The Carpenter's Shop') 1849-50 Sir John Everett Millais, Bt 1829-1896 Purchased with assistance from the Art Fund and various subscribers 1921 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N03584
Christ in the House of His Parents (‘The Carpenter’s Shop’) 1849-50 Sir John Everett Millais, Bt 1829-1896 Purchased with assistance from the Art Fund and various subscribers 1921 http://www.tate.org.uk/art/work/N03584

When Jesus Christ was born about 2,000 years ago, about 300 million roamed the earth. According to the Bible, the Lord ARMED a sandal wearing gang of 12 with not only the words of brotherhood but supposedly the power to perform miracles.  They were sent out to spread peace and build things that would make life more comfortable for innocent babies and children, in the hopes that they would grow up with innocence and goodwill.

Jesus did not build an army of soldiers and drones.  He didn’t encourage the Roman Empire to expand its war making abilities.  He pushed people to do unto others as they would have done unto themselves.

Today there are about seven billion people, who, in many ways are ravaging the earth.  Shouldn’t America, the Roman Empire of its time, field an army of one million sandaled Americans to spread peace and build healthy things for the innocents?

It cost us over $1 million per active military volunteer per year to be engaged in battles, without calculating PTSD related costs.

Instead of building a new, big bureaucracy, the  AWSC Congressionnal Proposal  would send  A LOT more paid volunteers to  Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Habitat, Doctors Without Borders, Head Start, Red Cross, International Rescue Committee, Oxfam, Mercy Corps, State Conservation Corps, effective local non-profits, in-need schools, hospital therapy centers, homes for the aged, etc.     Fielding a million Americans a year under this AWSC umbrella would cost about $40,000 per year.

It’s a gift to the world that keeps giving all year long.  It cultivates compassion, raises our public policy IQ, responds  to devastations, helps refugees, wins hearts and minds, and thereby stunts terrorist recruitment.

AWSC global ask not220x289

Imagine how much different today’s world would be had we been doing such a robust NATIONAL SERVICE CORPS for 30, 40, 50 years…

One of the few times Jesus expressed anger was at the money changers in the Temple.

jesusMoneyChangers

https://openclipart.org/detail/225861/jesus-casting-out-money-changers

Under the AWSC Proposal The Forbes 400 could fund the fielding of 21,000,000 doing good, paid American volunteers for 27 years by donating 1.1% of their wealth to the cause of protecting innocents.  What would Jesus say?

Would you support such voluntary funding by America’s uber-rich?

Want to help make the AWSC Proposal become  law, spreading gifts and little miracles all year long?

Pester Congress.  Spread the word via media.  Use any of People’s Lobby’s Opeds that express something akin to your feelings and put them out in social media, forward them to Congress and candidates.  Ask candidates where they stand.

Want to fund a People’s Lobby’s (PLI) intern, who could help with spreading the word?

Prayers accepted, but we are pretty sure God, as busy as he is, is pushing us humans to do more than kneeling to deliver some good amidst the myriad of problems clanging around down here.

Neither Santa nor Jesus delivers what the world needs without a lot more of us being involved.

jesusvsSantaLifts

volunteerDevelopesSkills

deedsPrayersMcAfee

Pope Francis

“We are close to Christmas,” he said. “There will be lights, there will be parties, bright trees, even Nativity scenes – all decked out – while the world continues to wage war.”

“What shall remain in the wake of this war, in the midst of which we are living now?” the pontiff asked. “Ruins, thousands of children without education, so many innocent victims, and lots of money in the pockets of arms dealers.”

Christmas festivities are “all a charade. The world has not understood the way of peace. The whole world is at war.”

“War can be justified, so to speak, with many, many reasons, but when all the world as it is today, at war, piecemeal though that war may be — a little here, a little there — there is no justification.”

“God weeps,” the pope concluded, “Jesus weeps,” for those whose sole purpose on this planet is to wage war, but who cynically deny that that’s their intent.

May you and yours have peace and good health.

Gifts received:

Fr. Nelson’s boys. NorCal video “Breaking bread.” Dec. 2015

Or paste  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nTu1DNoASSo&list=PLHcV3zsz2X9wKNj8s97pY6yPiYir9Pv19&index=5

Hiding from Mom.  “Too idealistic.”  August 2015

Or paste https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EAH-vPSSY8w&index=2&list=PLHcV3zsz2X9xHndBb26AyPRpVGkKNb-dX

Want to sign the AWSC petition? http://www.change.org/petitions/view/field_21_million_american_world_service_corps_volunteers_over_the_next_27_years

Change.org will forward a note to your Congressperson.

Presidential candidates stance on AWSC

(Slowly rebuiding and migrating websites)

People’s Lobby is asking all presidential candidates whether they support the AWSC Proposal, (http://new.dwaynehunn.biz/awsc-congressional-proposal/ ), which places a million Americans a year into peaceful National Service for at least a generation, not by building a new bureaucracy, but through serving in already existing organizations such as: Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Habitat, Doctors Without Borders, Head Start, Red Cross, International Rescue Committee, Oxfam, Mercy Corps, State Conservation Corps, effective local non-profits, in-need schools, homes for the elderly, therapy wards in hospitals, etc.

Please note that we’re asking for more than a minimalist response that says you support today’s minimalized Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, etc., or that “National service is a good idea…”

Thoughtful responses will include answers to the following questions.  Do you believe that?

  • Such peaceful service will increase opportunities domestically & reduce tensions internationally?
  • More than .4% of Americans (active military) should serve?
  • Peaceful, healthy change in many needy areas requires generations to develop & therefore endorse the generation long robust national service “sunset clause” in the AWSC Proposal?
  • The good accomplished by investing $40K/year in each AWSC volunteer would in time reduce the $400K attributed to each of our active military and/or the $1 million+ cost for each of our battlefield soldiers?
  • Both traditional & nontraditional funding mechanisms (in the Proposal) should be used to field 21,000,000 National Service Americans over the ensuing 27 years.

More info:

Would the world’s people and its environment be better off today if since the 1961 inception of the Peace Corps (a form of voluntary national service) 20 million had served by now (2015) rather than 200,000?

Thanks for providing your stance on the American World Service Corps Congressiona Proposal.

Peter Coyote support 9-1-2014

This is the letter that goes out tomorrow to Jared Huffman:

September 1, 2014

Congressman Jared Huffman

1630 Longworth House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515

Dear Jared,

I’m writing to express my support for Dwayne Hunn’s well thought out and articulated proposal for a an American World Service volunteer job corps that would place Americans (in the) Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Habitat for Humanity, Head Start, Teacher Corps, Doctors Sans Borders, Red Cross, International Rescue Committee, OxFam, Mercy Corps, and State Conservation Corps members in vitally needed locales and offer a million Americans the opportunity to serve at home or abroad.  These organizations do exemplary work and thereby offer Americans a variety of non-military opportunities to employ and develop a variety of skill sets dedicated to problem solving, enhancing peace and prosperity.

The proposal has been outlined in legislation at: http://www.worldservicecorps.us/world%20service%20key%20proposal%202yr%20volunteer.htm  It is my hope that you might study it and find it worthy of your support. Would it not be wonderful to have a body of volunteers as large as our military dedicated to peaceful service. It could be so and you could help bring it to reality.

Here’s hoping that you find it interesting and will lend you support.

Thank you very much for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Peter Coyote

 

Congressional candidate Colleen Rowley 10-06

Colleen Rowley MN 2nd CD D

Dear Dwayne and AWSC,

Thanks for taking the time to contact our campaign. Coleen generally supports an expansion of national service very much in line with AWSC’s platform. She also shares the reasons for doing so. In particular, she supports encouraging our citizenry to participate in programs like Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Habitat for Humanity, Head Start, Doctors Without Borders, Red Cross, International Rescue Committee, and State Conservation Corps.

Raising America’s political IQ is in truly a win-win scenario. To that end, if elected, I am confident Coleen will take a particular interest in AWSC’s platform.

Thanks again.

Walter B. Winger

Coleen Rowley for U.S. Congress

10-6-06 email

An army of volunteers for peace

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Marin Independent Journal – Marin Voice

Dwayne Hunn

Dwayne Hunn, IJ

Osama, Saddam and their followers are bad actors and will get what they deserve, probably mostly from our superb military.

In the meantime, it would be healthy to hear politicians, opinion leaders and parties lay out a  long-term solution to the terror these actors breed, before we get too deeply entwined in war’s bloody human and financial costs.  The solution lies in a Sargent’s quote:

If the Pentagon’s map is more urgent, the Peace Corp’s is, perhaps, in the long run the most important… What happens in India, Africa, and South America — whether the nations where the Peace Corps works succeed or not — may well determine the balance of peace.

In the 60’s and 70’s then New York Senator Jacob Javits proposed a peace army of a million young men. Labor leaders advocated an overseas service corps of 100,000. The Peace Corps’ first Deputy Director, Warren Wiggins, said a Peace Corps of 30,000 — 100,000 was needed.

The Peace Corps mean budget from 1965-69 was $108,000,000, with its mean number of Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) in the field numbering 13,947 with a mean cost per volunteer of $7,743.

On the other hand, for that same period the Vietnam War Budget was $16,260,000,000. The mean number of soldiers we kept in Viet Nam was 413,300. The MEAN cost per soldier was $39,370.

If just ten percent of the Vietnam War budget, $1,626,000,000, had been put into the Peace Corps budget to get Americans to work “the toughest job you’ll ever love that REALLY does good,” then an additional 209,996 mean Peace Corps volunteers could have served during that period.

Imagine if we had continued inspiring 55,000 American volunteers each year to serve in countries where clean water doesn’t run easily, chalk boards are luxuries, people house themselves in mud, clay and cow dung padded walls, education is treasured, health and food is too often wanting.

Instead, since its 1961 inception only slightly over 150,000 PCVs have served in over 130 nations.

Had our Army of over two million PCVs already served in the field, do you think international newspapers would be lambasting America on its pages?  Would readers buy it? Would Osama bin Laden and his cells have risen in such a world?

Maybe.  But having been a Peace Corps volunteer as well as a Global Village Habitat for Humanity homebuilder working near the struggling masses, I think not. Even most ivory towered policy wonks would probably agree.

Yet, where on the political hustings, on the forums provided for perceived leaders, do you hear even some of them planting visions of common sense, of marshalling good-doers to address the sufferings of the world.

The lines drawn between long suffering masses and terrorists and comfortable, arrogant Americans are short, and getting shorter.

The line eraser is not a stealth bomber or more technically armed Special Forces.  The eraser cleans when you build what an American Peace Army does – builds relationships, schools, sanitation systems, small farms and businesses.

Sarge Shriver was right, in the long run the Peace Corps map of the world is more important.  Today’s world reminds us how much more his words needed heeding.

Edwin Markham was one of John Kennedy’s favorite poets.  One of Kennedy’s favorite Markham poems was:

Why build these cities beautiful,

If man unbuilded goes.

In vain we build the world,

Unless the builder also grows.

Some brother-in-laws think alike.  Their vision of a vastly expanded Peace Corps is what today’s unbuilded global village needs.  Building a life for one’s loved ones forges a sense of pride, and that builds villages and cities beautiful.

It’s what two visionary leaders preached.  It’s what isn’t pushed enough today.

 

Mill Valley resident, Dwayne Hunn, is field director for the National Initiative for Democracy Campaign, a proposed process to empower all Americans with law making capabilities. Hunn served in the Peace Corps Mumbai, India.

 

Enlarged Peace Corps could change map

Peacefully changing the map for decades?
Peacefully changing the map for decades?

Portland Press Herald    Tuesday, November 5, 2002

Maine Voices                               Forum

A Different Army

Enlarged Peace Corps could change the map

  • See what 10 percent of the Vietnam budget could have accomplished.

By Dwayne Hunn

Osama, Saddam and their followers are bad actors and will get what they deserve, probably mostly from our superb military. In the meantime, it would be healthy to hear candidates, politicians and parties lay out a long-term solution to the terror these actors              breed, before we get too deeply entwined in war’s bloody human and  financial costs. The solution lies in a quote from Sargent Shriver:

“If the Pentagon’s map is more urgent, the Peace Corps’ is, perhaps, the long run the most important. . . . What happens in India, and South America – whether the nations where the Peace Corps works succeed or not – may well determine the balance of        peace.”

In the 1960s and ’70s, then-New York Sen. Jacob Javits proposed a peace army of 1 million young men. Labor leaders advocated an overseas service corps of 100,000. The Peace Corps’ first deputy director, Warren Wiggins, said a Peace Corps of 30,000 to 100,000  volunteers was needed.

The Peace Corps’ mean yearly budget from 1965-69 was $108 million, with its mean number of Peace Corps volunteers in the field    numbering 13,947, with a cost per volunteer of $7,743.

On the other hand, for that same period the Vietnam War budget was $16.3 billion. The mean number of soldiers we kept in Vietnam was 413,300. The cost per soldier was $39,370.

If just 10 percent of the Vietnam War budget, $1.6 billion, had been   put into the Peace Corps budget to advertise “the toughest job              you’ll ever love that really does good,” then an additional 210,000        Peace Corps volunteers could have served during that period.

Imagine if we had continued inspiring 55,000 American volunteers     each year to serve in countries where clean water doesn’t run              easily, chalkboards are luxuries, people house themselves in mud-        clay and cow-dung-padded walls, education is treasured and health    and food too often wanting. Instead, since its 1961 inception only        slightly over 150,000 volunteers have served in about 130 nations.

Had our army of over 2 million Peace Corps volunteers already served in the field, do you think international newspapers would be   lambasting America on their pages? Would readers buy them? Would Osama bin Laden and his cells have risen in such a world?

Maybe. But having been a Peace Corps volunteer as well as a Global  Village Habitat for Humanity home builder working near the struggling  masses, I think not. Even most ivory-towered policy wonks would probably agree.

Yet, where on the political hustings, on the forums provided for             perceived leaders, do you hear even some of them planting visions of  common sense, of marshaling good-doers to address the sufferings of the world?  The lines drawn between long-suffering masses and  terrorists and comfortable Americans are short and getting shorter.

The line eraser is not a stealth bomber or more technically armed        Special Forces. The eraser cleans when you build what an American Peace Army does – relationships, schools, sanitation systems, small      farms and businesses. Shriver was right: In the long run the Peace       Corps map of the world is more important.

Today’s world reminds us how much more his words needed heeding. Edwin Markham was one of John Kennedy’s favorite poets. One of   Kennedy’s favorite Markham poems was:

“Why build these cities beautiful,

If man unbuilded goes.

In vain we build the world,

Unless the builder also grows.”

Some brothers-in-law think alike. Their vision of a vastly expanded     Peace Corps is what today’s unbuilded global village needs. Building  a life for one’s loved ones forges a sense of pride, and that builds          villages and cities beautiful.

It’s what two visionary leaders preached. It’s what isn’t pushed              enough today.

– Special to the Press Herald

Copyright © Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.

Portland Press Herald    Tuesday, November 5, 2002

 

Pitching in to help build peace

Tuesday December 4, 2001              Marin Independent Journal

Marin Voice

Pitching in to help build peace

 Dwayne Hunn

In teeming Bombay of the late 60’s, he was a somewhat radical  Malaysian student journalist.  I was an Urban Community Development Peace Corps Volunteer.

The Bombay Gymkhanna had a rugby team that needed American footballers and a swift running back. The combination took us to the All South Asian Rugby Championship, and gave a few PCVs and a Malaysian student many meals we otherwise couldn’t afford.

Recently (about ten days ago), with him carrying a gimpy rugby back’s knee, I again tasted his renowned hospitality.

This time, however, Kadir was Malaysia’s Ambassador to Germany.  It is hard to imagine a more comfortable way to glean post 911 perspectives from Europe, ambassadors and Muslims.

None of them expressed hesitancy to America getting Bin Laden… “There is no one with an ounce of brains who would choose to live under the Talliban rather than with America… But you must do it carefully and not harm civilians… And if you attack other Muslims nations now you will be doing just what Bin Laden wants.  He wants you to strike out, so that he can rally extreme fundamentalists to bring those nations against you…And America must fix the Palestinian issue…”

Over and over it came back to America fixing this or that and Palestine….

When you are the toughest kid in the neighborhood even  grown-ups expect you to settle squabbles between foolish juveniles.  It’s not as easy as the strongest nation among nations that have centuries of wonderful civilizations intermixed with tragic warrings.

Nonetheless, so many point to young America as the world’s problem handler – militarily, diplomatically, economically.

At least when you were the toughest in the hood, you had experienced grown-ups who seldom hesitated to fill the roles you were learning.

In discourse, one hopes young America’s side is being heard.

No nation gives more aid to Afghanistan.

Who helped the Mujahadeen free their nation from Russians?

Who tried to nation build Somalia, perhaps the world’s poorest nation, and watched its Rangers lose 18 as they fought their way out of a downed helicopter and killed over 500 fundamentalist inspired warlords?

Who sent force to Kosovo, stopping Milosevic from cleansing Albanian Muslims?

Who, for decades and more than any other nation, pushed Arafat to control stone throwers and Israel to withdraw settlements

Yet who is constantly vilified for meddling too much – yet not doing enough?

No nation gives more aid to Afghanistan. Who helped the Mujahadeen free their nation from Russians?… Who tried to nation build Somalia, perhaps the world’s poorest nation, and watched its Rangers lose 18 as they fought their way out of a downed helicopter.

Yes, rich, strong America must do much.  But the world’s older, grown-up nations have a huge responsibility to take bold stands and implement solutions. They must educate against irrationalism. Aid and invest in needy countries.  Send  troops, food and foreign aid.  They should start their own Peace Corps, Habitat for Humanity, Doctors Without Borders, so they too can help make the world more livable for the poor upon whom fanatics prey.

Saudi Prince Alwaleed, whose $10 million check to benefit  911’s victim’s families was returned because he said: “America has to face reality (regarding Israel) if they don’t want to fight terrorism for the next 100 years. What the Americans are doing now in Afghanistan is right. I’m with them all the way.  They have to take revenge.  And you can quote me. I – am – an – ally – of – America.  Exactly like Mr. Guiliani and the United States. I want to eradicate terrorism also.”

The Prince echoes most of the world’s embassies and capitals.  Perhaps, however, his check ought to be the down payment that eradicates terrorism’s seeds in the world’s seething cauldron while  addressing his concern that, “ Israel is doing a better job getting its message out.”

With his millions, he ought to offer to build state-of-the art UN staffed schools in a children labeled peace zone along Palestinian Israeli borders.

These peace zones would allow children from both sides to learn, play and build relationships that destroy hateful stereotypes – those too often seen in Middle Easterners’ eyes on TV.

You want a public relations coup that will win the world’s hearts?  A stealth missile to obliterate the dark caves of poverty and ignorance where terrorisms lurks?

Bring students together.

Education and its relationships are how struggles – or jihads – are overcome.

Misery and hunger in land of plenty

San Francisco Examiner September 25, 1991

Misery and hunger in land of plenty

Dwayne Hunn

“Buck sheis de do, shab?  Khanna mangta hai.  Boock laga  hai…” he said, as he tugged my hand.  He stood belt level and I  turned away after glancing at him.  He kept holding and tugging, as  the teeming masses of Indians moved beside us on the sidewalk.

 

“Boock laga hai, boock laga hai, tora khanna mangta  hai…” he said as he rubbed his stomach and tugged my hand.  I tried  to look  at him as we kept walking in the crowd.  In  training  they had  told us that we would have to decide how to handle  beggars.  In  training, they had told us that 1/2 of India’s  beggars  were purposefully maimed.

“How do they get a statistic like that, does the  government go around and ask, `Did you purposefully maim your kid?'”  I  had skeptically asked.

During  my first five minutes in the streets, I had  trouble starring into the face of this boy whose cheek had a whole in  it the  size  of a Kennedy silver dollar, ringed  with  pus,  sores, exposed  teeth  and ugly gums.   Ahead, curbside on  the  street, were skateboards that American kids careen around on for fun.  In Bombay  they  are used by kids without hands, ankles or  legs  to reach  the  car or taxi at the light, grab its  handle  and  beg, “Paise de do, shab…  Gorib admi, shab..”

The  homeless  and  poor seemed to be  everywhere.   In  the financial district of the city, where piles of garbage were  left to  be picked up early in the morning, I naively asked the  scavenger, searching the piles which the rats always worked,  what he was  doing.   A weak “Khana (food), shab,” was his reply,  as  he continued  slowly  searching the mounds of garbage.  On  a  train trip, I laid on my pack at a village station and watched a family with a pants-less child defecate diarrhea on the train  platform, and use his fingers to lick it.

As  a kid living on the poor side of Cleveland, I  met  only one  beggar, whose cut foot my mother cleaned after  she  brought him  into the house and fed him.  As a Peace Corps  volunteer,  I saw them maimed and crippled and begging all day, everywhere.

Of  course,  I got to see the Taj Mahal, Ajanta  and  Allora Caves and stuff a kid from a working class family would not  have had  the  vacation money to see.  Those tourist  sights  made  me develop  a simplified philosophy of why the India I knew  in  the late-60’s  had the human problems it had, and has.  To build  the palaces for the rich, and naturally cooled, hand carved caves for the  influential religious classes took a tremendous  number  of  manhours and resources.  Energy that was not spent on  irrigation systems, infrastructure and education.

Little  did I realize how some of those experiences  working on Urban Community Development in the slums of Bombay would  prep me  for  today’s America.  My first work site, the  Worli  Chawls slum had  water available for only an hour a day,  usually  with enough pressure to reach the 2nd story of the typical four  story tenements, from about 3:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m.  If you lived on the third  or  fourth story, you bucketed water up to store  in  your water drums.

For  years now I have lived in affluent Marin County,  California,  where in recent years we were limited to 50  gallons  of water per day per person.  The I captured rain water in drums and saved shower water in buckets and bucketed it to some very  basic toiletry  needs.  Homelessness and  begging has become a  growing problem  in  Marin   and a bigger problem in  Big  Brotherly  San Francisco.

On a shrinking planet whose resources are limited and  whose population  is  pushing 5 billion  with an increasing  number  of homeless and hungry, there is little justification in doing  more Taj  Mahals, even if we had powerful S&L financing and  visionary Trumph leadership.  There is obvious justification for increasing irrigation systems, infrastructure and education worldwide.

My  two  years of oversees work reinforced  my  belief  that there is a tremendous need for expanding the Peace Corps overseas and  its  resultant  educational benefits at  home.   Working  on affordable housing and land use problems in the North Bay of  San Francisco for almost 9 years continually exposed me to  opponents of  affordable housing, whose view of the world is  dominated  by preserving what they got and only allowing more palatial  estates to  be built.  How their relatively powerful actions play on  the stage the rest of the world must live on matters not.  They  fail to  see  how the use of our land to support  and  provide  energy efficient transit modes and affordable ownership housing  impacts not only those near their county borders but those oceans away in our  shrinking and ecologically fragile planet.  The NIMBYs  (Not In  My  Backyard)  elect NIMTOs (Not In My Term  of  Office)  who usually produce LULUs (Less than Useful Land Uses) by doing DECME (Density Erasers Causing Million Dollar Estates) projects  rather than meeting the working people’s and the environment’s  housing, transit and community development needs.

The  Maharajas’  produced  Taj Mahals by edict.   We  do  it through  a  more democratic process of meetings that  produces  a veiled but often similar result.  To a Peace Corps volunteer  who has seen and sensed what wasted hours and resources can do, it is hard  to fathom why people would fight to add another 2%  of  Marin’s land to the 88% which is already in open space, agricultural preserve and parks; rather than support a rail oriented development that would provide affordable housing, child care and less car-dependent communities.

Failing  to  comprehend  such logic, I often  fall  back  to thoughts Kishore Thakar, an Indian friend, left me.  Referring to his own caste-and-class riddled society he said, “People need  to walk a mile in other peoples’ sandals to understand the toil  and misery that goes into living the life of those who struggle.  For those  who move about easily,  the blisters developed  from  that walk  remove both the calloused perceptions some have  of  others and the scales that blind their view of what their actions do  to others.  It would do the world good if more people who move about easily  served a few years doing what you Peace Corps are  trying to do.

“Buddhists believe that each life should bring more enlightenment  and less need for selfish desires.    If in this life  we do  not become enlighten over what our actions cause  to  others, then  our reincarnation should be to walk endless miles  in  the sandals of those upon whom our actions stepped most heavily.”

 

Dwayne Hunn is a Mill Valley free lance writer.