The Common Good


Sojomail - July 7, 2000

                    ****S O J O   M A I L****

             Promoting values at the crossroads where
             spirituality, politics, and culture meet

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+++++++++++++++++++++++++ 7-July-2000 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Q u o t e  o f  t h e  W e e k
    *The people's republic of Roy

H e a r t s  &  M i n d s
    *How does racism begin? It's taught....

F u n n y   B u s i n e s s
    *Election follies

C u l t u r e   W a t c h
    *Negotiating gene science ethics

B o o m e r a n g
    *SojoMail readers hit reply

P.  O.  V.
    *Saying no to the Disneyfication of America

B u i l d i n g   a   N e t w o r k
    *Terrorism hits civilians in Sierra Leone

T h e  L a u g h i n g  S a l m o n  D i g e s t
    *On the Road to Adams-Morgan

W e b  S c e n e
    *Cool siting of the week

O n  the  R o a d
    *David Batstone in Melbourne, Australia
    *Jim Wallis in Davis, California


Q u o t e  o f  t h e  W e e k

"If protesting against having a nuclear bomb
implanted in my brain is anti-Hindu and anti-
national, then I secede. I hereby declare myself
an independent, mobile republic. I am a citizen
of the earth. I own no territory. I have no flag....
I'm willing to sign any nuclear non-proliferation
treaty or nuclear test ban treaty that's going.
Immigrants are welcome. You can help me design our

      -- Arundhati Roy in "The End of Imagination"


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H e a r t s  &  M i n d s

You¹ve got to be taught
By Jim Wallis

When I was a little boy, I would go downstairs
to the basement and listen to old Broadway musicals
such as Oklahoma, South Pacific, My Fair Lady, and
Around the World in Eighty Days on my parent¹s
hi-fi record player. To this day, I could sing
all those songs for you, but you wouldn¹t want
me to do that.

South Pacific was one of my favorites, and there
was one song I liked but didn't really understand.
It was about a young American Navy sailor and a
beautiful Pacific Island girl who fell in love
but whose relationship wasn't accepted by the
people around them. I think the song was titled
"You've Got to Be Taught." I remember lyrics like
"You've got to be taught to be afraid of people
who's eyes are oddly made, or people whose skin
is a different shade, you've got to be carefully
taught..You've got to be taught before it's too
late, before you are six or seven or eight, to
hate all the people your relatives hate, you've
got to be carefully taught." The song was about
racism, but I didn't understand then what that was.

I see that same lack of understanding in my son,
Luke. He's 21-months old now, and doesn't yet
know about racism. He loves to go for walks with
his mom and dad, to the park, to the subway, or
just around a restaurant, church, or party. And
what he wants to do is meet people. Luke greets
nearly everybody he meets or passes, and has many
spots around town where's he¹s made great friends
who love to see him coming through the door at
the post office or in the gate at the local park.
"Hi, hi, hi," he says to everybody. "Hi man, hi
boys, hi lady," he exclaims with his winning
smile and, if he's heard somebody¹s name before,
he's almost sure to remember it.

Walking to the subway last week, Joy and I noticed
how Luke was saying "Hi" to everyone -- black, white,
Latino, Asian, male, female, young or old. It was
obvious that Luke sees no differences that matter
to him. Everybody gets his happy greeting. His only
preference is for people who talk back to him, and
most people do.

It makes me sad that, in ways both subtle and direct,
his society will start teaching him about racism. Of
course, we hope that we can teach him too, about the
need to overcome it. But it is a marvelous thing to
watch a little white boy walk through streets that
pulse with America's diversity, and want to meet
everybody. I'm watching my son's technique carefully,
because it seems easily to break down racial barriers,
sullen looks, and angry stares. I'm paying close
attention because, after all, you've got to be
carefully taught.


F u n n y   B u s i n e s s

The Choice
by Ed Spivey Jr.

....Voting is so darn fun.

It's the only time you get to use that cool
hole punch thingy. I usually don't like any
of the candidates, so I just punch holes by
all their names. It may take a little longer,
and it most certainly nullifies your ballot,
but for two minutes of tactile fun you just
can't beat it. [Excepting perhaps those
bubble-wrap thingies. -- The Editor]

During the actual voting process -- for reasons
unknown and possibly sinister -- when you stand
in the booth only your legs will show. We think
this is done because:

* Poll officers want to see your legs. It's
just something they like to do and we probably
shouldn't talk about it any more.

* If your legs are visible people will know
when you start dancing. Then they can tell you
to stop.

* The U.S. Census Bureau figures it can tabulate
the number of people who vote by counting their
legs, and then dividing by two. The Republicans
have officially opposed this approach, saying
this constitutes "sampling" and is therefore
unconstitutional. The Democrats, on the other
hand, justify it on the basis of the landmark
Supreme Court decision (Twiggy v. State of
Oklahoma) that established the one-man, two-legs,
one-vote rule.

....But if you take your vote seriously, and of
course you do, then you eventually will have to
suffer the consequences of your actions. For the
next four years you will regret having voted for
one of the following:

* President Al Gore. Tall, dark, and boring. The
Monotone-In-Chief; the man who invented the
environment; the candidate who caused an entire
nation to cry out, "How can somebody so darn
handsome make me want to take a nap when he
talks?!" Gore campaigned on a promise of
continuing the Clinton legacy, except for that
one thing.

* President George W. Bush. The man elected on a
simple campaign slogan: "Don't let the fact that
I¹ve done NOTHING keep you from electing me to
the highest office in the land. (Was that a good
read? Did I do okay? Should I have come down a
little softer on that 'nothing' part?)"

....Yes, the new president will have much to contribute
to the new century. And it will be all your fault.

To get the whole barrel of laughs served up by
Ed Spivey in the July/August issue of Sojourners,
go to:



The Utne Reader recently listed Sojourners as
the 20th most-cited magazine in its 16-year

Why does the Utne Reader love Sojourners? Sign
up for a FREE ISSUE and find out for yourself.

Go now to:


C u l t u r e   W a t c h
Negotiating Gene Science Ethics

by Kristen Philipkoski
A complete human genome map not only promises to
improve public health, but also to raise myriad
public concerns. To think that we are endowed at
birth with inevitable traits that will have profound
consequences throughout our lives can be a bit daunting.

....People want to know what scientists can do with a
map of the chemical make-up of a human being, and what
it will mean to their future. Terms like patenting,
genetic engineering, and medical privacy come to mind,
and ethics experts say it's time for researchers and
government to spend some time and money educating the
public about the ethical implications of a genome map.

What issues do people need to understand the most? The
experts outline a few here:,1282,36886,00.html




Jim Wallis' newest book, Faith Works, is available
at your favorite online or local bookstore, including
the Sojourners Resource Center, 1-800-714-7474,

See also


B o o m e r a n g
SojoMail readers hit reply

Honey Rubin of Atlanta, Georgia:

Re: David Batstone's visit to spirituality and
justice groups. All over the world, or just for
now in Australia? Any info on what you do during
these visits?


Ed. note: Keep track of the "On the Road" section
of SojoMail, Honey. We try to alert you when a
SojoNet member is coming to your area. David
Batstone was in fact just in Atlanta in March
speaking at Emory University's ethics center.

Our aim with these visits is to inspire (and
be inspired), to educate (and be educated),
and probably most important to help connect
SojoMail readers to each other so that we can
find ways to collaborate and cross-
fertilize the efforts of local groups.


Alan Lewis of Newcastle upon Tyne, England:

Belatedly, a response to one of Jim Wallis' comments
of nonviolence at Washington, D.C., and Seattle.

Jim has been writing for the middle classes for
too long. His comments that public will never
support violent protestors are simply not true.
The wave of urban riots and the Miners Strike in
England during the early 1980s had considerable
working-class support. When your own people are
being violently stopped from taking back what is
theirs or legitimately venting their frustration,
people will support violent responses.

The police are not a neutral force that is apolitical,
as can be seen most obviously in these situations.
They are there to violently enforce an unjust
system and quell any resistance to that. How much
trust you have in the police is a class descriptor of
sorts. If you and your community have been victimised
by law enforcement officials, then you are unlikely
to make yourself vulnerable to them. However, if
you (and your property) have always been protected
by these officials, then obviously you can trust them.

At the end of the day, it is not my place to condemn
people who endure lifelong systematic violence and,
out of frustration, do the unspeakable and actually
fight back.


Ed. Note: SojoMail discussion on the article on 
Rep. Tony Hall's call for a U.S. government apology
for slavery brought powerful responses, including a
call from one reader to apologize to Native

Jack Gilroy of Broome County, New York:

In Binghamton, New York, on Hiroshima Day, August
6, we will begin our annual apology of that day of
incineration of the people of Hiroshima by meeting
at the Martin Luther King Promenade and walking
to a place nearby where General Washington ordered
his forces to begin the first major organized
search-and-destroy mission against Native
Americans. The soldiers of General Sullivan and
General Clinton burned villages nearby, torched
storage bins of beans, squash, and corn, sawed
down fruit trees, killed Iroquois people, and
drove families into the forest where many of them
perished if they did not find refuge in Canada
and points west.

The Broome County (NY) Council of Churches, Peace
Action, and the Catholic Church Justice and Peace
people will come together to proclaim the city
land as Peace Park. Our speaker will be Chief
Irving Powless of the Onondaga Nation,
representative of one of the six Iroquois nations
whose ancestors were victims of our 1779 government-
approved genocide.

Getting the U.S. government to apologize is a major
chore. We are having trouble obtaining approval
from the Binghamton city government simply to call
the Gen. Clinton encampment grounds on the
Susquehanna River "Peace Park."


Josh Kaufman-Horner of Oakland, California:

At no point do I imagine Jesus saying to a
member of Zacchaeus' family, "We both know
some of your new fortune comes as the
result of fraud. Don't worry about it. Your
awareness of Zacchaeus' misdeeds doesn't make
you responsible in any way. Live it up. Today
salvation has come to this house."

I can't see it. When ill gotten wealth falls
into the hands of another, it does not make the
receiver responsible for the fraud or injustice.
If, however, the receiver is aware of the
injustice, it is still their responsibility to
set things right. Neither Jesus nor common sense
lets them off the hook or offers cheap grace.

....I find I too am on an unrepentant path as I
choose to treat the resources I have inherited as
if they are untainted by the legacy of our
country's original sins. I find I too am on an
unrepentant path as I enjoy the cheap products
recently imported from nations of poverty and
oppression. I find I too am on an unrepentant
path as I celebrate increases in unemployment
and in industrial access to cheap labor because
it makes my stock portfolio rise.

So I've taken to calling myself "the child of
an unrepentant Zacchaeus."


Roland James of Phoenix, Arizona:

Perhaps -- after what has happened in East Timor,
Kosovo, Iraq, Latin America, etc. -- Africans
should be thankful they are not in "the
strategic interest" of the United States.
However, Africa should be in the humanitarian
interest of all people of conscience....

Pushing for positive change is a duty we
all share. As the South African author Alan
Paton once wrote, "To give up the task of
reforming and transforming society is to give
up one's responsibility as a free person."
We can be happy warriors, but it is a moral
crisis when 40,000 children die each day
from malnutrition and disease as their
governments buy military arms from the U.S.


Want to make your voice heard? Send Boomerang
e-mails to the editor: ""


P. O. V.
Saying no to the Disneyfication of America

by Julie Polter

Rev. Billy of the Church of Stop Shopping does not
preach the Christian gospel. It's just as well. Most
denominations would frown upon a cleric who leads his
flock on "shopping interventions" at a Disney Store.
Last year the good reverend preached for 45 minutes
on top of the check-out counters while his followers
sang "Whistle While You Work for 15 Cents a Day."
(No fellowship hour afterward, because Rev. Billy
and others were being arrested.)

....Rev. Billy was created by New York City actor and
writer Bill Talen (with the encouragement of Sidney
Lanier, a former Episcopal priest active in theater
circles). Rev. Billy is sort of a non-religious
"social prophet" against consumerism and chain stores
run amok.

Describing the psychic and cultural emptiness caused
by what he calls "product hypnosis," Talen says, "I
wanted to do something besides just being ironic about
it." The resulting guerrilla theater project takes on
the forces -- Disney, Starbucks, Mayor Giuliani's attacks
on community gardens -- that displace local businesses
and disrupt communities in Times Square and surrounding
neighborhoods. With a TV preacher's bounding cadence
and the backing of the Mackey Dees Gospel Choir, Rev.
Billy leads on-stage "church" services at a theater
space, followed by street actions (audience
participation is encouraged). Rev. Billy and audience-
congregants have cleaned up a community garden and
planted garlic, demonstrated against sweatshops, and
waged paint assaults on billboards.

This spring and summer, Talen¹s revival efforts are
aimed at the Starbucks "attack shops" that have been
set up opposite community cafes in the 9th Avenue area
west of Times Square. In response, the Church of Stop
Shopping is working on a campaign for a Franchise-Free
Zone there. As Talen describes the chain store threat,
Rev. Billy briefly emerges, intoning, "Children, we
are drowning in a sea of identical details. There will
come a time when we will not know where we are!"

For the complete article as it appeared in the
July/August issue of Sojourners, go to:


B u i l d i n g   a   N e t w o r k
Terrorism hits civilians in Sierra Leone

Although Sierra Leone has captured the world's
attention by the rebels attacking and taking
UN peacekeepers hostage, the story receiving less
coverage is the their new reign of terror on
innocent civilians. People are still suffering from
murder, rape, and mutilation (ie chopping) at the
hands of the rebels.

Other than diplomacy and some funding for the UN
peacekeepers, the U.S. is still doing little for
the humanitarian and human rights situation.

Sign on to the campaign by Amnesty International to
stop the rebels from selling diamonds for guns. It
only takes a minute to register for the rebel-free
diamond petition and the letter to government
officials urging more support for what is now the
poorest country in the world.

Go now to:


T h e   L a u g h i n g   S a l m o n   D i g e s t

On the Road to Adams-Morgan

Yesterday I got knocked to my knees by a force
more powerful than I usually encounter
walking from my office to Adams-Morgan for
lunch. It was swift. It was brutal. It hurt
like hell.

No, this wasn't a random act of
inner-city violence. I just tripped,
apparently over my own feet. Fell straight
forward like a 9-year-old, scraping knees,
shins, and palms. Was Paul this sore after
getting knocked off his high horse? With
aching shoulders, neck, and muscles only God
knew were there?

Recently a friend of mine also tripped over
a sidewalk, with much worse results. Split
lip, bloody forehead, etc. As she lay face
down on the cement, a number of people passed
her by. The one who stopped was an older,
apparently homeless, Latino man who didn't
speak English. Over and over, he asked in
slurred Spanish if she was okay. Then he
reached into a very dirty pocket and pulled
out a semi-clean handkerchief to wipe her
face. When the police arrived, they shooed
him away, thinking him a nuisance, though my
friend recognized him for who he was.

Getting knocked to one's knees every once in
awhile is probably a good thing. The world
looks different when viewed from the ground up.

             --The Laughing Salmon


W e b  S c e n e
Finding scruples online

The Scruples Web site helps equip business people
with spiritual values to operate in good conscience
within the marketplace.

The best feature: an extensive directory of the
Christian business networks that operate across
the globe, and resources to help run an ethical

The Scruples Web site is a service of Youth With
A Mission, Marketplace Ministries, and Okanagan
Target Marketing.

To take a gander, go to:



Help SojoNet build a network.


O n  t h e  R o a d

Melbourne, Australia
Friday, July 7, 12:30 p.m.

David Batstone spends the afternoon with
World Vision Australia


Davis, California
Friday, July 14, 7 p.m.

Jim Wallis will be speaking at the Alliance
for Democracy's Fourth National Convention
at U.C. Davis.


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