Building Global Community

When Bob Dylan first sung the lyric, ‘the times they are a changin’ back in 1964 he couldn’t have known, at the time, how great an impact and a legacy that this song would have.  In the 1960s a generation of young men and women  rejected the status quo. This song became a justification and a rallying cry for those who: refused to sit on the back of the bus,  would no longer sit and eat lunch at segregated lunch counters in department stores and for those who would rather flee their country, then to be drafted into a conflict, that would reduce the meaning of a life to that of a pawn piece in a global chess game between two stubborn giants.

Now, 47 years later this song is imbued with new meaning, when we look at the actions of those young men and women in: Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Bahrain and Libya who have defiantly taken a stand and signaled through acts of civil disobediance that their aging autocrats and monarchs are no longer welcome and or feared.

To the Muammar Gaddafis’ and King Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifas of the region, who would rather indiscriminately kill their own countrymen and women, then relinquish power, Bob Dylan would offer this tidbit of wisdom: “Don’t stand in the doorway, don’t block up the hall, for he who has stalled, there’s a battle outside and it is ragin’. It’ll soon shake your windows and rattle your walls.”

So after the dust has settled and a wave of regimes have been toppled throughout the Middle East, what comes next?  A time to revision a kinder and gentler society by heeding these wise words from a poster entitled How to Build Global Community, written and distributed by a social and environmental justice organization in New York state called the Syracuse Cultural Workers:

1. Don’t think of no one as “them”

2. Don’t confuse your comfort with your safety

3. Talk to strangers

4. Imagine other cultures through their poetry and novels

5. Listen to music you don’t understand [dance to it!]

6. Act Locally

7. Notice the workings of power & privilege in your culture

8. Question consumption

9. Know how your lettuce and coffee are grown: wake up and smell the exploitation

10. Look for fair trade and union labels

11. Help build economies from the bottom up

12. Acquire few needs

13. Visit  people, places, and cultures- not tourist attractions

14. Learn people’s history [Re-define progress]

15. Know physical and political geography

16. Play games from other cultures [Watch films with subtitles]

17. Know your heritage

18. Honor everyone’s holidays

19. Look at the moon and imagine someone else, somewhere else, looking at it too

20. Read the UNs Universal Declaration of Human Rights

21. Understand the global economy in terms of people, land, and water

22. Know where your bank banks

23. Never believe you have the right to anyone else’s resources

24. Refuse to wear corporate logos [defy corporate domination]

25. Question military/corporate connections

26. Don’t confuse money with wealth, or time with money

27. Have a pen/email pal

28. Honor indigenous cultures

29. Judge governance by how well it meets all people’s needs

30. Be skeptical about what you read

31. Eat adventurously [Enjoy your vegetables, beans and grains in your diet]

32. Choose curiosity over certainty

33. Know where your water comes from and where your wastes go

34. Pledge allegiance to the earth; question nationalism

35. Think South, Central and, North- There are many Americans

36. Assume that many others share your dreams

37. Know that no one is silent though many are not heard, work to change this


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