Public Parks, On Private Land!

Date: May 9th, 2017

There are those who say that if we, as the species of engineers we are, do not strip something from the land, whether it be an animal for food, or a tree for a lumber, or a mineral for mining, then we are missing out on valuable resources. But public lands, lands that exist for the people and other species that roam this Earth rather than for companies or development, are some of the most valuable resources we have. There is a quote by Theodore Roethke: “Deep in their roots all flowers keep the light.” Famous, slightly vague quotes can have a slightly different meaning for everybody. I won’t tell you my understanding, I’ll just let his words sink in. Ever since humans started thinking, we’ve found joy and peace in nature. Using it as a remedy for depression isn’t a waste of your time. Obviously, medicine created to combat depression works directly and chemically. But this doesn’t disprove that there is an inherent “light” in nature. Speaking from my own experience, I use nature as a solvent for negativity. In the future (hopefully this behavior will start sometime soon), nature will be looked at as a necessity, not just for recreation, within and outside of all our cities. It is just as much of a needed thing as electricity, copper, or a citrus farm is.

The fact that there is an entire branch of federal government devoted to our emotional wealth is a fact that I love to think about. The federal government has a lot of problems – but this is one of the upsides to having a nagging mother, always present, that is obsessed with red tape.

There’s just one problem.

What if mother goes back on her promise to uphold one of the only purely good things she does for us?

Normally, when a particularly rich person owns a swath of land, it is for them and them alone. There is a gate around the entire thing, with a sign at the entrance reading “Private” or some variation of that word. But what if the sign said “Part of the Private Lands Conservation group. Please park around corner after entering through gate. Two dollars for parking. Enjoy”? (The Private Lands Conservation group is real thing, I’m positively ecstatic to admit that this is not my original idea: https://www.nature.org/about-us/private-lands-conservation/index.htm – I’m just writing about it!)

What if mother doesn’t want to hurt us, but is being forced into going back on her promise by a giant orange crayon?

As Elizabeth Warren reminded me when I went to see her speak, the government is not evil. You are not immediately mean and sour if you work for the government, and you are not weak if you rely on the government. The government does indeed have many dangerous flaws, but ones we can fix over time if we work together and diversify. Examples? Elizabeth Warren, Nancy Yates, the Obamas, Hillary Clinton (she ain’t perfect but she works hard and tries to be there for us, which we need right now), Bernie Sanders, and the thousands of relatively – sadly – unknown people working to undo damage and prop us up. Most of them are just in the wrong positions (Elizabeth Warren for President!)…or maybe the exactly right positions. Most things can take time.

Global warming and conservation can’t. Which is why I say we rip our “valuable resources” out of the orange crayon’s hands as soon and as painfully as possible. And no, it’s not just the orange crayon! It’s just that people like me have to keep mentioning him when something comes up because he’s the Big Loud Orange Megaphone for everyone we’d mention if he wasn’t sitting right smack dab in the middle of the Oval Office! Where was I? Ah yes. Hit him where it hurts and save the world at the same time.

As some of you may know, I plan to own and operate a bed-and-breakfast (small hotel) as my base career to earn enough money to write and design when I want as opposed to on a deadline.

The bed-and-breakfast will be in an area populated enough that I earn money from it, but secluded enough that I can make the area around the bed-and-breakfast a giant public garden, roughly the size of the smaller state parks.

Ambitious? Hell yes. A bit daunting? Maybe. But for those looking out for me, this is a good investment: Conservation should not only be in the hands of the government, a thing which noticeably changes every four years, even after Mr. Orange Crayon leaves office. If we truly want to save this world from environmental catastrophe, the right type – a philanthropic, environmentally sound type – of private ownership should be more common.

This “privablic” land would be private in the sense that there is a person, family, or even corporation who owns it, but public in the sense that anyone can come and enjoy it. How do we further incentivize this already existing approach? Larger tax deductions for private owners who donate their land for public use would be helpful. Also, some cities require that for large developments, per a certain amount of private space developed, a portion of it must be allotted to public access. All cities and states should require the same.

I enjoy being hospitable and taking care of people (as well as meeting strange folks from across the country and world), and I’ve also started a financial plan earlier than most people my age (emphasis on most), concentrated on saving money and remaining stable throughout my adult life. I have a strong belief that the bed-and-breakfast will work out for me, that way I can do odd jobs when I want without losing money.

I do not doubt that the public garden will work just as well, but just in case I can’t pay for it with the money I make, I hope the Nature Conservancy will have my back.

#goprivablic

Movers And Shakers

Date: April 26th, 2017

During the campaign period for the 2016 election, I heard the usual: “I’ll move if Trump wins.” Once he did – still sometimes sadly incomprehensible to me, that he won – those types of comments were seen as jokes. Often a plain case of “Oh, I changed my mind.”

Why? Why would so many people change their minds on such a pivotal thing without giving it much thought?

If they saw his victory as urgently, terrifyingly negative then (enough to move!), why do they not now? More has come out, if anything, he should be seen as worse!

There were about only 9 people, who actually moved out of the country, that have been mentioned by a major news source. (The BBC wrote this.) At least 20 people have moved in general. At least 20. As the BBC writes, one woman “is ‘totally heartbroken’ and had always thought she would raise her two daughters in the US.” These people, who moved, all have one thing in common – fear. Fear can be a good thing, or a bad thing. These people were heartbroken and afraid enough to move. When I say afraid enough to move…you’ll notice that this post is tagged with many tags, including the word “complacency.” I tag my posts with it quite a lot. It is a fantastic vocabulary word.

Definition by Merriam-Webster.

 

 

 

 

 

Complacency is a funny little state of being. And it is “the public” of any country or nation in one word. The truth is, with the United States of America in particular (it is where I – currently – live, after all), enough has been unearthed about the government and our societal practices that there should have been a full-scale rebellion a few years ago. We are lulled to sleep. For example, look up the phrase “will the Hunger Games ever happen” or some variant on your preferred search engine. Most articles that answer this question end with “Probably not.” The common explanation is that as a species, which has many societal gains to back up our inborn humanity, we simply wouldn’t let it happen. But the people of the Capitol are just as emotional and sentimental as we are. They’re just more tolerant. Every good or bad idea will be opposed at first. But depending on who they idea panders to, soon, it will gain traction. ISIS (ISIL, DAIISH, etc) is doing a more modern and therefore more aggressive version of what the Christians did back in the old days to become a major religion. Unless we deal with it now (and in the correct way! It is an ideology, not an army), it will morph into common culture. There are always going to be people who will resist the public processes and ideas, but in today’s culture, they are conspiracists and harmless rebels who hide themselves in their run down house, hoarding newspapers and food. Once the snowball gets to a certain size, it will get bigger and bigger without encouragement from the person who started the roll down the hill. Sneak the snowball in without people knowing, and the people will except the snowball as one of their own. Eventually, everything becomes accepted.

Heartbreak and fear are two good ways to break out of the cycle of complacency.

So it appears that most of us are not sufficiently heartbroken and afraid.

Why the hell not?

LISTEN. 

Poverty is rampant. It has been normalized, and yet the impoverished people themselves have been alienated, to the point where you are taught to ignore and avoid, ignore and avoid. Homeless people are scary, and yet simultaneously, dirty and broken little humanoid sacks of meat bent on destroying your nice white picket fence. We think of them as bad pieces of furniture. They ruin our views. Even those who sympathize with them stay away from them. I sure do. And sure, mentally unstable people are dangerous to be around, but we act as if every homeless person is dangerous. We do nothing. When they ask, we act as if we have nothing.

We already lived in a dystopia before Drumpf was elected.

People with darker skin or the “wrong” facial features face humiliation and a higher chance of dying every day.

We noticed it. We pretended to cry over the fallen.

It is seen as bad to be a woman. By default. Without evidence to suggest that this is correct.

And yet we do nothing.  

Gender has become two neat little boxes we’re all supposed to fit in. To the point of abuse.

We are awARE WE?

Wake up.

Wake up now.

The revolution. I am not the stereotypical rebel. I am blonde, hazel-eyed, already 5’1 and I use a wheelchair. Adorable. Short. Smart. I’ve got glasses. And I’m a pacifist. I can never remind you people enough. To clarify, I am not a passive person. I made a promise once to never kill, and to never let anyone die.

The revolution is now.  

Moving…is not the right move. You’ll hear of a few celebrities who weren’t “kidding” about moving out of the country, but had decided to stay and fight.

The revolution has become a trend, of 15-second fame.

TRY TO FIGHT BUT FAIL. TRY TO RISE BUT SLEEP. BE LULLED TO SLEEP.  

If you are one of those who decided to stay and fight…FIGHT. Maybe not physically. But don’t just post on your favorite website. Don’t just use that hashtag. I don’t encourage you to damage the personal property of the innocent, but have an affect!

You may be thinking, as a close friend or Facebook user my mom knows, how dare I accuse you of being complacent? How dare I preach?

Well…I apologize.

We are all complacent. And it is time to break down the wall. Not just poke small dents into it.

BREAK IT DOWN.

You’re going to drive down your lane in your car listening to your music doing your business…having done nothing to solve the problems that need it most.

The GGPC: “SparkNotes” Version

Date: April 1st, 2017

This is sort of a mini-post. It’s not that long, and not that important. I just thought I’d sneak it in here…

It’s a quick, not-at-all comprehensive, look at the GGPC as it exists now – as an idea:

GGPC RECIPE:

1. Purpose: The purpose of the GGPC is to prevent genocide, via a perpetual screening, which exists to watch out for, and avoid, certain traits, while at the same time watching out for, and supporting, certain traits.

2. Members:

a) An absolutely equal number of people from each political party – eg. Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, etc.

b) An equal, unbiased playing field in terms of gender/race/age.

c) At least three of each: diplomats focused on the overall wellbeing of the country/nation as well as the relations of the country/nation with other countries, humanists focused on the wellbeing of a previously or currently oppressed group as well as any group who is urgently and negatively affected by prejudice, environmentalists focused on maintaining a healthy and stable environment as well as removing dangers caused by environmental disasters/contamination, and finally, intellectuals focused on the overall effects of each Presidency as well as upholding the dignity and reputation of a country or nation.

3. Screening – Basic Guidelines:

a) They would screen based on their own qualities: diplomatic and critical thinking, kindness, intelligence and scientific thinking, and logical thinking would need to be obviously and strongly present in a candidate for them to even be considered, and the opposites of those qualities would need to be largely absent.

b) The screening would continue into the candidate’s Presidency, if elected. The GGPC would stay behind the scenes, they wouldn’t run the country, they would simply take a page from the UN’s book, and make any effort possible to remove a leader showing signs of the negative qualities.

Link to GGPC blog category (will connect you to other GGPC posts): http://www.earthcompromise.com/?cat=97

If History Is Going To Repeat Itself, Then History Has To Repeat Itself…

Date: March 18, 2017

Am I a huge nerd, being heavily influenced by my history class? Yeah.

Trump is driving us backwards. Whether you think this is a good thing or a bad thing doesn’t matter. It’s…literally…just…true. He’s going to erase years of hard work. I have this theory that true genius doesn’t really exist. In my opinion, even “smart” is just a label. There are people, just people, and then there are good ideas. “Smart” is simply what happens when a person has more good ideas at a higher rate. One man – who does not have many good ideas – is prepared to destroy all that the good idea people have done.

How do we respond?

By taking a page from the book of those good idea people who came before us.

If Trump wants to take away women’s rights, we have to remind ourselves, those behind the women’s suffrage movement had it worse, fought harder, and came out on top. Susan B. Anthony was raised as a Quaker, and was an abolitionist as well as a feminist. Trump wants to go back to the days when Boss Tweed and his ring went unchecked. (Ironically, I doubt he’s read any history books.) Well, after a closer look at this little ring, with help from Thomas Nast, they ended up arresting Tweed (who was a very interesting man, by the way). John Laurens, years and years and years before the Civil War even started, was a white man in Carolina, critical of slavery. (You may know him from Hamilton.) Theodore Roosevelt is on my list of “Presidents that deserve to be given a third and fourth (etc) term and/or brought back to life,” that also includes Lincoln, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt and the Obamas. Teddy did the most for conservation out of all the Presidents (he once went camping with John Muir), and once said this: “The most practical kind of politics is the politics of decency.” The anti-Trump. We need another Teddy. Or Eleanor. Or FDR. #makeamericarooseyagain The thing is, a lot of the earlier Presidents were great. Ahead of their time. It’s just that generally, the culture of white men hadn’t quite gotten there yet.

If they’re moving backwards, we will too.

If the bad parts of history are going to repeat themselves, then the good parts of history have to repeat themselves as well.

Do your history homework.

Take a lesson from the past.

And do good.

Native Americans*: We Screwed Up Big Time And I For One Apologize Sincerely

* And Descendants Of Said People

Date: January 23rd, 2017

The United States has so much potential to do good. We’re growing, slowly, getting better, even slower. I wouldn’t want to bomb this country into oblivion. And I don’t want to “leave the country if you don’t like it!”

But I’m white. And yes, I’m agender and female (gender and sex are different), asexual-panromantic, and a wheelchair user – don’t ask, that’s for another blog post, but the fact is, I have white privilege. “My people” hold the highest positions in nearly everything, and society praises them as superior. Even a homeless man looks more “pleasant” if he’s white, as opposed to black, brown, or frickin purple. “Your people” are scattered throughout the country, viewed as powerless although I know that is not true, made to live like illegal immigrants when really it was us who came in unwanted.

So maybe, I only think things are going well is because of my whiteness. Maybe I’m biased because I’m not treated like crap every day. I’ve got a great life, when I think about it. Great school. Really great family and friends. Great social situation. I’m…great. I’m so great that I’ve used the word great six – no, seven – times in this paragraph. Great. (Eight.)

When you guys first got here, you crossed the Bering Strait – maybe as early as 22,000 years ago – which disappeared after the Ice Age ended, leaving you to adapt to each environment you encountered. (You even learned how to hunt woolly mammoth – a pre-historic elephant-like creature with too much hair, and an attitude.)

You went from north to south, and developed into the American Tribes, as well as the Olmec, Maya, Aztec, and Inca. You lived on cliff sides and in canyon bottoms, and you had a multi-story buildings, and underground ceremonial chambers. You had complex governments, empires spanning thousands of miles, and I’m not even surprised about any of this. Of course, you’re just people, no one culture gets everything right, but you were fantastic. Better than we were. The more I read about you guys, the more “Sh*****t, we f*cked up!” is uttered from my mouth. I even made a playlist to express how sorry I am: I’m SO Sorry – from, Whitey. But I know my awareness doesn’t excuse anything.

So what can I do? To make it up to you, or, if it’s unforgivable, to prove that I would to make it up to you if that were possible?

It’s plain and simple that my ancestors were not involved. We came later, from Germany and Greece. But I still feel partly responsible. Is that weird?

Let’s have a thoughtful discussion about this.

This isn’t so I can feel better about myself. This is so I can make the world a better place.

What can I do?

I’m not willing to “fight” hard, but I am willing to write hard. I’m a writer. I wasn’t at the marches last Saturday because I was busy thinking up how to write this effectively. And writing, drawing, painting, works.

Now.

How may I be of service to the great number of communities we utterly destroyed?

Letters To The People I Love: John Oliver

Date: January 9th, 2017

+ If you’re wondering what this is about, I’ve started a new thing called “Letters To People I Love.” This is different from “People I Respect And Why,” because in “People I Respect And Why” I simply name a person or group, most often a person, and rant about how much I respect and admire them, and why, but in “Letters To People I Love” I treat the blog posts as I write as actual letters to them. A way of telling them, straight from me, how much I love them. Enjoy. +

. . .

Dear John Oliver,

My name is ZMKF. I am – currently – 15 years old. I guess you could say I’m too young to watch your show, if the people who attend it have to be 18 or older, and most of my favorite movies are all animated, excluding Harry Potter. I was – surprise! – only 11 or 12 when I first starting watching The Daily Show (with Jon Stewart) and The Colbert Report, so by the time you hosted for him, and then got your own show, I was ready to start watching Stewart’s angry “cousin” – you.

Am I too young for one of the most healing shows out there?

Yes, I said healing, even though you are also crude and aggressive – er, passionate. Healing. You are healing. When Colbert “left” (yes, I know he’s got a show), I tried to fill the hole with Stewart, which worked pretty well, considering Colbert is pretty much Stewart’s spawn. Not that Colbert could ever be replaced – it was more like I was holding on to what I had left for dear life. I thought “C’mon, Stewart’s gotta stay for at least a few more years, especially after that.” And Stewart left, not too long after The Colbert Report ended, and…I was watching the last episode, and I never cried at sad movies, ever, but I was crying then, not even weeping but I could feel the tears on my face; but I was also smiling, and it felt…right, because whatever is right for him is right for me. And then…there was…you.

Thank you.

Your show is relatively new, so I know you are staying for a long, long time. And of course there is a difference in the way the two shows are written, so even though you hosted for some time while Jon was away, you are refreshing. (Not that Stewart isn’t refreshing.) Also – my family finally had an excuse to pay for HBO, giving us access to the other great shows out there.

Currently, you are taking your annual break and you come back February 12th. I’ve missed you. You make me feel safe, and joyful, and driven. And you’re kinda attractive, in the adorkable, they’re-an-artist-and-you-can-see-it-in-their-face way. (Like Lin-Manuel Miranda.) You really are the perfect man. (Do not read into that.) You are needed. And I’m not asking you to come back early, I’m asking you to believe me: The John Oliver Effect is real, and a viable way to make the world a better place. Please, I’m not trying to embarrass you or put you on the spot, I’m really not. But I require that you sit your a** down and listen to me compliment you, and everyone who works on the show with you, and you know what, maybe these aren’t even compliments…maybe they’re not aimed directly at you, maybe they’re just true.

I care a lot about you, because you do good work for the planet and the organisms who live on it.

I know you don’t think about the aftereffects of each episode, I know you’re just thinking about how to do the next one. I know all this (from an article I read), but I also know that there’s such a thing as object permanence. Or even concept permanence. You cannot come up to me and say to my face that you are not influential. The John Oliver effect isn’t up to you. I don’t really care what you think of it, I mean I never want to actively upset you, but the J.O.E is a thing whether or not you like it. Just ask any one of these news sources (click on the names, they’re links, and they’ll take you to articles written about the J.O.E by each of them): Make Use Of, TIME, Fortune, UPROXX, Bustle, and Bustle again. I literally just looked “john oliver effect” up on Google and took the first six results, I bet there’s way more. Point is, majority wins, the J.O.E is a thing.

For example, Last Week Tonight did a special on net neutrality and because of the flood of comments from your viewers, the FCC servers crashed and the FCC itself agreed to adopt net neutrality regulations.

I’ve missed your accent, your specific voice, your mind, your big, warm heart. I’ve missed you because Donald Drumpf is President-elect, and Jon Stewart isn’t hosting The Daily Show anymore, and the more you learn about history the more you realize white people f*cked up big, and global warming is a thing and a very bad one, and did I mention Drumpf is President-elect?

We need The John Oliver Effect, now more than ever. I mean, I’m a writer and I sure do try hard, but I suppose that even though I never ever want to be famous, I will always want to be known, if only so I can know my trying hard affects something. Yours does. I don’t care who does the hard trying, rather I just want things to be done. And you do things.

I love you.

Yeah, it’s love. You’re a father figure for me and I doubt I would be the person I am today, the eloquent writer, dreamer, and fighter, without you.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

ZMKF

HOW Would The GGPC Replace The Electoral College?

Date: January 6th, 2017

First of all: This is my first blog post after New Year’s Eve, so belated Happy New Years to you all.

And second of all: This is my second post on the Governmental Genocide Prevention Council (GGPC). In my first, I introduced the idea and fleshed it out a little. It’s a new idea, so it’s not like I have an official document typed up yet, but I do my best to make it “make sense.” You should read the first one (link here: The Electoral College Voted (Dec 19th), And…), otherwise you won’t understand what the heck I’m talking about.

Basically, the GGPC would replace the Electoral College. But the Electoral College is a very complex thing to replace. It is simple enough to explain, but if someone told me they had a plan to replace it, I’d ask “How?” and I have a feeling you’re wondering that same thing. HOW would the GGPC replace the Electoral College? How would the responsibilities transition from one group to the other?

If God is in the detail, congratulations, we’re the lucky few about to have tea with God.

I’d call this “The Basic Concept, Part 2”:

The Electoral College is responsible for preventing the rise of a demagogue, and even those few who refuse to believe that any U.S politician counts as one say that the Electoral College is a plain old “shit shield” (my term) for the election. Both things are true, technically. Alexander Hamilton once said “Nothing was more to be desired than that every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption. These most deadly adversaries of republican government might naturally have been expected to make their approaches from more than one quarter, but chiefly from the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils. How could they better gratify this, than by raising a creature of their own to the chief magistracy of the Union? But the convention have guarded against all danger of this sort…” He was speaking directly about the Electoral College. And Hamilton? He don’t kid around. (Ask Lin-Manuel Miranda.) According to archives.gov, “the United States Constitution and Federal law do not prescribe the method of appointment other than requiring that electors must be appointed on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November (November 8, 2016). In most States, the political parties nominate slates of electors at State conventions or central committee meetings. Then the citizens of each State appoint the electors by popular vote in the state-wide general election. However, State laws on the appointment of electors may vary.” The Electoral College is not a particular place of meeting, it is a process, administered by “The Office of the Federal Register at the National Archives and Records Administration.” There are 538 electors, and 270 electoral votes is a majority.

One important thing to remember is that once the Electoral College votes (and it has, for the 2016 Presidential election), it’s still not over. It goes to Congress next. And Congress can file complaints. According to archives.gov, “If any objections to the Electoral College vote are made, they must be submitted in writing and be signed by at least one member of the House and one Senator. If objections are presented, the House and Senate withdraw to their respective chambers to consider their merits under procedures set out in federal law.”

Alas, the Congress is mainly Republican, at least so far, and January 6th is…today. So I guess that’s that. It’s over now.

At least officially.

But not with the GGPC.

The concept, as it relates to the replacement process, is this:

1. The GGPC would screen the candidates, like the Electoral College. Unlike the Electoral College (you’ll remember this from my first GGPC post!), the GGPC would contain “at least three of each: diplomats focused on the overall wellbeing of the country/nation as well as the relations of the country/nation with other countries, humanists focused on the wellbeing of a previously or currently oppressed group as well as any group who is urgently and negatively affected by prejudice, environmentalists focused on maintaining a healthy and stable environment as well as removing dangers caused by environmental disasters/contamination, and finally, intellectuals focused on the overall effects of each Presidency as well as upholding the dignity and reputation of a country or nation.” They would therefore screen based on their own qualities: diplomatic and critical thinking, kindness, intelligence and scientific thinking, and logical thinking would need to be obviously and strongly present in a candidate for them to even be considered, and the opposites of those qualities would need to be largely absent.

2. The screening would continue into the candidate’s Presidency, if elected. This isn’t too hard to visualize, the GGPC would stay behind the scenes, they wouldn’t run the country, they would simply take a page from the UN’s book, and make any effort possible to remove a leader showing signs of the opposites (see 1).

And that was “The Basic Concept, Part 2.”

The Electoral College Voted (Dec 19th), And…

Date: December 20th, 2016

…I’m disappointed, to say the least.

This is the loss on the night of November 8th, 2016, all over again.

The Electoral College behaved like any student at an actual college might: irresponsibly, immaturely, and dangerously.

But this ain’t over till it’s over.

We should end the Electoral College. (The New York Times agrees with me, and they can write about this in better depth than I can, so I suggest you read this: Time to End the Electoral College) This is ironic – my mother Diana is the creator of the “Prosecute Trump for illegal offenses before the Dec. 19 Electoral College Vote” petition. I know I’m not supposed to think my mom is cool, but I have to say, this is one of the coolest things she’s ever done. Her petition is different from the thousands of other variations that are out there, partly because it highlights one very important piece of information: the Electoral College was created to stop the rise of a demagogue. The Founding Fathers did doubt the collective intelligence of the people of the United States (that’s why we have a representative democracy); they must have somehow known that a demagogue would find it easy to manipulate most of the population, especially at a time when not many people could even read. A demagogue is defined as “a political leader who seeks support by appealing to popular desires and prejudices rather than by using rational argument.” This is all true. To be honest, I am currently just as big a fan of the petition as I was before December 19, but sadly, the Electoral College has not fulfilled their purpose.

However, I feel that ending the Electoral College without putting another thing in place would 1) alter the structure of the electoral system, and 2) leave no system to prevent the rise of a demagogue.

The GGPC: Instead of ending the Electoral College and then just leaving what happens next to chance, we replace it with the “Governmental Genocide Prevention Council.” This is my original idea and I am proud of it. It is a new idea, I don’t have it all fleshed out, but the gist is this:

– According to Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (the link goes to the full text of the Genocide Convention), genocide means “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.” (Article II)

– Genocide is a signal of the downfall of a society and/or empire. It is true that a group can bounce back from a genocide over long periods of time, depending upon factors such as the amount of people in the group left over after, but the fact that a genocide has been allowed to take place means that there is something already wrong with the social system in place.

– Genocide is arguably the worst thing that could happen to a society and/or empire, excluding purely environmental destruction. Any measure that can be taken to prevent it should be taken to prevent it.

– A demagogue in power should be considered an immediate violation of the rules laid out in the Genocide Convention. According to Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, even the attempt to commit genocide, complicity in genocide, and conspiracy to commit genocide can be punished (Article III), and “persons committing genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in article III shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals.” (Article IV) This means that in the event that President-elect/President Trump (or anyone like him) is constitutionally responsible, the GGPC could remove him from office on account of potential violations. (Trump is currently not accused of genocide.)

– The Governmental Genocide Prevention Council would replace the Electoral College, and act as a much needed upgrade. The GGPC would have a very similar purpose (to prevent the rise of a demagogue; to prevent genocide on the behalf of a country/nation via the careful selection of its leader), but the differences include: A) an absolutely equal number of people from each political party – eg. Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, etc, B) an equal, unbiased playing field in terms of gender/race/age, and C) at least three of each: diplomats focused on the overall wellbeing of the country/nation as well as the relations of the country/nation with other countries, humanists focused on the wellbeing of a previously or currently oppressed group as well as any group who is urgently and negatively affected by prejudice, environmentalists focused on maintaining a healthy and stable environment as well as removing dangers caused by environmental disasters/contamination, and finally, intellectuals focused on the overall effects of each Presidency as well as upholding the dignity and reputation of a country or nation.

So that’s the basic concept.

Remember, this is my original idea, and as I am sure I will keep updating this idea with new information and/or new additions to the idea itself, here is the link to the GGPC category on my blog: Governmental Genocide Prevention Council

I Am An Absolute Pacifist…Even During A Crisis

Date: December 16th, 2016

I am an absolute pacifist. (I love making playlists, so I made one for absolute pacifism: I Am An Absolute Pacifist on Spotify. Music is an excellent way to express the deepest of emotions.)

For anyone technical enough to want the exact definition of the word, the definition of “pacifist” is “someone opposed to violence as a means of settling disputes” according to vocabulary.com, and dictionary.com defines it as “a person who believes in pacifism or is opposed to war or to violence of any kind.”

I care about everyone. I am emotional. I find killing to be an unjustifiable, yet forgivable, act. I am just as “pragmatic” as anyone – I am an intellectual, and a philosopher, and that doesn’t mean I can’t be a fighter (to me, being an absolute pacifist means I will never kill anyone, but there’s still a multitude of painful things I can do to a person if necessary). I understand about “doing what needs to be done” – it is simply that I have found that there is never only one way to get it done.

The reason I write about all this now is because this past Wednesday, I had my last Model UN class of the semester. We talked about what’s been going on in Aleppo, Syria (obviously) and what happened in Rwanda a while ago (our Model UN class often goes historical, possibly so we have the benefit of discussing things in retrospect). We talked about political turmoil, and the causes and effects of it.

The teacher brought up an interesting hypothetical situation. She told us to imagine these events, in order: 1. Suddenly, a majority of U.S citizens cannot find jobs. 2. The economy goes downhill, and even those who have jobs leftover from before begin to lose money. 3. Welfare and other “poverty buffers” start to lose their power. 4. Food, shelter, and any form of stability become rare to all U.S citizens, except for the elite; just as rare.

The teacher then asked us to describe what would happen to society. (It was, and still is, my personal opinion, that nothing would happen to us per se, we would all just become libertarian farmers. Think of it this way: we all need food. So food needs to be farmed. Even if something was wrong with the food, it would be someone’s job to fix whatever’s wrong.) A consensus of opinion among the class was that “shit would hit the fan.” Utter chaos would ensue, and the U.S would become an abrasive, hostile environment (if it isn’t already). U.S citizens would “go back to nature” in the worst way possible – starving, desperate, and afraid, we would lose empathy for others and become not “humans” but “Homo sapiens sapiens” – the difference between the two, my friends, is that one is our name, and one is the name of a species of creature. (And just now I realize – crap, that is exactly what would happen!) A creature who not only kills for food, but kills those who have food to take it from them. A creature who succumbs to revenge until there is nothing left. A creature who sees their own world as the only world there is.

I spoke up. I said, as a sort of argument against the idea that every person would turn into this creature, “A few years ago, I made a promise. The promise was to never kill anyone, and to never let anyone die. It was a fail-safe mechanism. Even if I forgot why I made that promise, even if I ‘wasn’t myself,’ I would remember the promise itself. With that in mind, I doubt I would succumb to that kind of behavior.”

And almost everyone in that class proceeded to chime in with some variation of “You can’t do that.”

Mmmm.

Yes I can.

One girl was very polite about it. She was very careful to mention that “I don’t really know for sure what you would do because I’m not you,” but the basis of her argument was a non-verbal “Yes, I do know what you would do because you’re only human and you can’t escape that.” (Try me.)

The most common argument against my being a pacifist in times of crisis was that “a crisis is a crisis and you can’t think it away.” Growing up, I was always told to write like the person reading has no idea what you’re talking about, so – what they mean is that when you’re starving, desperate, and afraid, you lose the ability to think rationally. They’re saying I might be an intellectual now, viewing the situation from outside, but if I were experiencing it, I would behave differently from what I think, because what I think I would do has no bearing on what I would actually do.

That’s what the fail-safe promise is for.

I know that crises tend to push people to the brink. I know that prolonged crises can change people to a point where it’s hard to go back to their “standard” form. I know that I could be fine today but dangerously mentally ill tomorrow. And for crying out loud, I know that people tend to look out for themselves only when it comes down to it!

But you know what else I know?

I know that “morality” isn’t just some philosopher’s concept floatin’ up there in the ether. It is right here, right now. Empathy is your ability to recognize that yeah, other people’s lives suck too. You lose that; you become…scary. Let me give you all an example:

Zombie apocalypse. You and your group are wandering the streets, properly armed, yet in need of food. Your best friend’s little brother has a fever, and all the medicine has been contaminated, so he needs a little extra food if he’s going to make it through the coming winter. You come across another group, and you recognize the leader. This guy bullied you when you were in high school together. He’s still a bit of a dick, you can tell. And they’ve got all the food you need, plus a little more. You want their food and whatever supplies they have, but you know you can’t share, and you don’t want anyone trailing you looking to get back what you took from them. So after some consideration, you decide to kill almost all of them – or at least try and leave some of them for dead – but spare the little girl.

Sounds viable?

Okay, now read this excerpt, from the little girl’s POV, an hour after:

. . .

I shake Mommy’s shoulder. “Mommy, mommy, wake up!”

She doesn’t wake up. Her skin feels cold. I try again, and again, no results. I notice the dark red marks all over her chest, and remember what the man who left with all our things said: “Hey, kid…we only did it cause we had to. You’ll understand when you’re older.” Did what, did what, what did they do? Did they send Mommy, and Georgie, and Sam up where Grandpa went last year?

They did.

Mommy, Georgie, Sam, Wendy, Michael…no one responds when I call their name. Why let me stay here? My mother, my brother, everyone who took care of me, I needed them to help me, I needed them to give me hugs and tell me everything’s going to be okay, and now their skin is cold and they can’t say anything anymore.

What will I understand when I’m older? That everyone I loved is worth less than a few strangers?

. . .

This girl will take one item off each body left behind, a trinket or bandana or scrap of fabric, use her sewing needle and thread to put them all together – it is her hobby, after all – and then head off to the west with the memorabilia in tow. She won’t come across any humans for three more days, during which she will discover 1) she’s a good squirrel huntress, and 2) she’s afraid of the dark. She is 4 now. At 16, after all the zombies are gone and humanity is (relatively) safe again, she will give herself little scratches on her arms, hating herself for not remembering what her mother was like.

I’m not saying that “a few strangers” (the little girl’s name for your group) deserved to starve to death. I’m not saying that one little kid, the brother or the girl, was more important than the other. I’m saying…empathy, my friends, is here and now, it is no fairytale. The little brother and the little girl are both very human, and they both have their own unique perspectives.

It is time you realize that if you’ve got a little brother, someone is the little girl.

I am against the death penalty. Most often related specifically to the death penalty, another argument against absolute pacifism is that I “don’t know what really happened.” This is bullcrap. (I would say the s word, but children are watching.) Yes, I love to educate myself, I love to learn, and I do need to learn more, but not for that reason! I know what happened! Morgan Geyser (didn’t kill anyone but tried, very nearly succeeded), Austin Myers (technically did not kill, helped to kill), Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (yes, he killed, very directly) – all these people – I know what they did! I know what happened! I know, I know, I know, I know!

I will remember my promise. I will tattoo the promise on my frickin arm if I have to. I will never kill anyone, or let anyone die.

I will always be an absolute pacifist.

ZMKF’s Guide To The Apocalypse

This is another “dateless” one. The first one I didn’t put a date on was “The Ultimate Clinton’s America Re/source” – which is also worth checking out.

First, some definitions. “Apocalypse” and “post-apocalypse” both refer to…well, the apocalypse, often due to environmental/political factors. “Dystopia” refers to the degradation of society, often due to political factors, which can include environmental factors. Although apocalyptic and dystopian fiction are most commonly just that,  fiction, the concepts themselves and reality are not mutually exclusive.

Grammarians must hate me – knowingly and willingly, I am grouping the definitions together under one word (the one word being “apocalypse” and all variations including the adjective form) to make things easier for me and everyone reading.

Let’s get down to brass tacks. I am very well aware that the upcoming Trump presidency will be ground-breaking, and not in a necessarily positive way. (I say “necessarily” because I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt – he could get a lobotomy.) This may be because I’m a writer, and therefore have no trouble thinking of “plots,” even for “nonfiction” (the real world) – but I can see, very clearly, an apocalyptic future for us, at least in North America.

But don’t fret! I took time out of my busy schedule to write this guide, so with my help, all of you can make the apocalypse an enjoyable experience for you and your family!

PRIME VIEWING SPOTS

A good view always makes for a good time. I’ve assembled the very best views here, in or near major cities like Los Angeles and New York.

1. Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, Culver City, California

I got this picture from www.welikela.com - I have no idea where they got it.
Picture of Baldwin Hills. (I got this picture from www.welikela.com – I have no idea where they got it, and frankly, I don’t really care. I have no idea who the woman in this photo is, and though this may make me a cynic – that sky is filled with smog.)
Picture of just one part of the wonderful view from Baldwin Hills. (I got this picture from www.bhsoevents.wordpress.com, and I can only suggest that since they are clearly an events website, they should have an apocalypse viewing party as one of their events.)
Picture of just one part of the wonderful view from Baldwin Hills. (I got this picture from www.bhsoevents.wordpress.com, and I sincerely suggest that since they are clearly an events website, they should have an apocalypse viewing party as one of their events. I could organize it for them, if necessary. One tip for hosting the event: beer. Lots and lots of beer.)

Located in Culver City, Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook is easily accessible to residents of Los Angeles, Culver City, Santa Monica, and Venice.

After strong winds, the nearly 360 degree view is exceptionally clear, and during typical weather, it is still worth the drive/walk.

During the day, there is a lot to do with the view – you can point out where you live to all your friends, look at landmarks from a different perspective, count all the burning buildings, play “I Spy,” close your eyes and try to guess where in the city those sirens are coming from, and guess what species the nearest dead tree is.

During the night, the city lights brighten up the otherwise much darker view of Los Angeles – they’re beautiful, and let you reminisce about all those stars that the light pollution blocks out.

2. Mount Wilson, Los Angeles, California

Picture of one of the many views from Mount Wilson. (My own photo.)
Picture of one of the many views from Mount Wilson. (My own photo – ZMKF.)
Tree/sky combo at Mount Wilson. (My own photo.)
Tree/sky combo at Mount Wilson. (My own photo – ZMKF.)

Located within the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument and Angeles National Forest in Los Angeles County, California. It’s a bit of a drive from L.A compared to Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook, but it offers an even better view of Los Angeles in general, and a closer view of Downtown. “Bonuses” of going there include an observatory – you have to book tours to get inside – and a cafe with wonderful chili dogs.

3. East River State Park in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, New York

East River State Park. (I took this photo directly from another blog - www.ytravelblog.com - and I'm making sure to give credit because I don't want to get arrested.)
East River State Park. (I took this photo directly from another blog – www.ytravelblog.com – and I’m only making sure to give credit because I don’t want to get sued.)

You’ll get a lovely view of Manhattan as it turns into a crispy, empty shell of a metropolis.

Besides, you’ll be far, far away from Trump Tower, so you can scream, cry, and burn flags all you want without fear of being arrested and shot. Unless you’re black. Then you always have to fear that.

East River State Park consists of 11 waterfront acres, with multiple gathering areas for events, a well-manicured lawn, and a play area for children.

 

4. The “High Line,” Manhattan, New York

I wonder if these people knew they were being photographed. (Picture from www.thehighline.org)
I wonder if these people knew they were being photographed. (Picture from www.thehighline.org)

1.45 miles long, this unique park stretches through multiple parts of New York, including the Meatpacking District. And the Vegetablepacking District. (Kidding.)

This offers multiple views of New York from within the city.

Wheel-chair accessible.

Breezy.

They offer camp-style day trips for children. Some activities include an exploratory tour, and park design.

5. Rocky Butte Park, Portland, Oregon

This is the summit. (I got this picture from www.wedding-spot.com - wouldn't both parties get even more pissed off if one left the other at the altar, if only because now they have to go on a hike to get back down? Who likes hiking? Nobody!)
This is the summit. (I got this picture from www.wedding-spot.com – my only question is, wouldn’t both parties get even more pissed off if one left the other at the altar, if only because now they have to go on a hike to get back down? Who likes hiking? Nobody!)

Portland is a really cool place. It was named after the TV show Portlandia.

Juuuuuust kidding.

Apparently people get married here a lot.

If nothing else, you get to crash a wedding.

 

FUN GAMES FOR THE APOCALYPSE

Maybe you have people over. Maybe you’re stuck in traffic. Maybe you’re stuck in gridlock traffic, and there’s no getting out for a couple of days. Not to worry!

1. I Spy

This is a great, simple game to play, especially with younger children, who may need to distract themselves from the gunshots and yelling outside.

2. Count All The Dead Plants

This is a big hit. The victory goes to whoever has paid the most attention throughout the game and therefore counted the most dead plants.

3. Yellow Car

Since this is a lesser known game, I shall explain what the object of the game is – there is no object. Well, actually, the object is to feel smug. Very smug. Every time you see a yellow car, you say “yellow car” before anyone else – you feel smug because yellow cars are rare, and hard to notice. If you’re asking me, taxis don’t count because I heard of the game from John Finnemore’s lovely podcast, Cabin Pressure, and they don’t have yellow taxis in Britain.

GOOD FOOD FOR THE APOCALYPSE

Food that is easy to make, and affordable.

1. Cereal

This is a great food, especially if you find that you suddenly don’t have as much money as you used to, or maybe you need to get out of the house a lot faster than you used to.

2. Chili

Made of the bare essentials, can be served in almost any container.