Evolving Peace

A site that is progressing for the goal of everlasting peace within ourselves, our family, our friends, our country and our planet !

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Succeed from US Culture.

To succeed or not to succeed is not the question. On the national news through either the Associated Press or the xenophobic Bill O’Reilly the nation has been informed of the rising secessionist movement in Vermont. Likewise the non-mainstream eco-friendly Orion magazine has followed suit and has spotlighted its growth (read here). While there are some legitimate merits for the call to succeed from the Union, this is a mere distraction from all the positive grass roots efforts in Vermont.

I recently returned to New Jersey and was distracted from many a conversations and had to adhere to statements like “So you all in Vermont are succeeding,” or “I here that you socialists,” or “I figured that all the Socialists like Bernie are for this.” While on one hand I think that the United States government has become a bunch of organized criminals and that the United States Empire has just gone too far with its indoctrination of its policy of global domination I do not think succession is a viable solution. On the other hand, I do support the secessionist movement in Hawaii, where the Hawaiian people are having their cultural identity and land stripped to make way for large scale tourism and military installations.

In Vermont, the vast movement of environmental sustainibilty is something that should be highlighted and broadcasted nationally. The “localvore” movement that is highlighting and broadcasting awareness of our nations food supply is something that should be cherished. What about the mass awareness and usage of alternative energy sources, such as wind, solar and hybrid technologies? Montpelier’s plan on becoming the first green and sustainable state capital should be highlighted. Ariel Zevon’s Local Agriculture Community Exchange in Barre and Anthony Polina’s Vermont Milk Company are fine examples of the good Vermonters are doing; however the media would rather focus on the train wreck mentality.

As for the political side of the equations many individuals within the Vermont legislature have worked continuously to create progressive measures to tackle the energy crises. The serious debate regarding H.520 shows how Vermonters want to remove our dependence on dirty fossil fuels and volatile nuclear energy and that should merit national attention. Instead due to an intellectual discussion on succession; Vermont has been castigated as outcasts.

While there are multiple qualities in the political debate of Vermont that has gone left uncovered by our national news media a frivolous theoretical debate has stripped our reputation. Vermont is a small state, but due to its small friendly communities we shall be able to overcome the negativity and shed some light on the national spectrum. As for succession, we may not be leaving the union politically, but cultural we will maintain our independence and subscribe to the homogenized culture of consumption.

Robb Kidd

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead

Monday, June 25, 2007

TRAINing from History

“How Vermonters get there from here,” was the theme this past weekend of the Vermont Historical Society’s annual History Expo in Tunbridge. Exhibits were structured around the theme of transportation. There were antique cars, old style bicycles, the horse and buggy and dominating the majority of exhibits were trains and street cars. Unfortunately, a lost mode of transportation within American society, however with the lingering concerns of global warming hopefully its memory is still strong amongst our consciousness.

The railways and streetcars of the past have been given away to the dominance of highways and automobiles. Roads and highways are one of the most highly subsidized elements of society today. Most states receive millions of federal tax dollars for highways, even within the Hawaiian Islands. Roads and parking lots in America cover over sixty thousand square miles which is ten percent of arable land (that could be suitable for agriculture purposes instead). Preposterously, at the same time American’s politicians deny funding for rail networks and other alternate transportation they continue to expand subsidizing oil exploration, highway construction and maintenance. Highlighting the abuses of the system was last year’s Congressional budget in which there was a proposal to build a twenty million bridge to a sparsely populated island in Alaska.

So, while there are many of individuals like myself who have invested in hybrid, bio-diesel, or fully electric vehicles the truth of the matter is that we need to further investments into public transportation systems. The public is unobliged to change on their own accord and truth be told that is why we need a shift in transportation policy. As I walk through the streets of Montpelier on any given day I will see at least three hybrid vehicles, but in contrast while on a recent trip to New Jersey I saw a three to one ratio of hummers to hybrids. Society as a whole does not want to do any effort to change and that is why a wholesale shift in governmental policy is needed.

The symbol of the automobile has become the identity of America, but it hasn’t always been that way. Humans have only lived within the last one-hundred years subservient to automobiles. I have been told stories of how my grandmother used to take public transportation from the city of Paterson, NJ to virtually anywhere in New Jersey at relative ease. Likewise, I attempted that for a few years in NJ but soon was distraught on the impracticality of it in modern society. I once attempted to travel by train and bus to William Paterson College while I was a student from my hometown of Mahwah, New Jersey. The ride by car is just under a half hour; however by using the train and bus (excluding waiting time) the trip took about four hours.

Here in Vermont, a ninety-five year old gentleman told me that from the small town of Jericho, he used to be able to take the train to Burlington, Montpelier, and St. Johnsbury with little effort. The towns of Montpelier and Barre were connected by trolley car, Waterbury and Stowe had an electric train connecting the towns and likewise many towns and cities throughout America did as well; however with the advent of automobiles the railways and streetcars were removed and transportation policies favored automobiles and oil production. Tracks were ripped up or left to decay and the development of highways began to uproot whole communities. Highway routes were established based on the decisions of who had clout. Town’s could be merely bypassed while others destroyed such as the town of Lewiston, Vermont (incorporated into Norwich). American society had been transformed into the cult of cars and as a result our environment and towns have suffered.

The debate advances further away from whether global warming is happening and towards what can be done to help prevent it. Glances at our recent history can help obtain those goals. It was not too long ago that the railroad transported us to and from our homes and with the advances of technology and government support we can become a much more environmentally society. Money towards public transportation is an investment in our future, while money towards highways and bridges is just another anachronistic subsidy of the oil companies and automobile industry. So, how did we get here?

Robb Kidd

“We are the first nation in the history of the world to go to the poorhouse in an automobile.” Will Rogers

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Nuclear Grand Oil Party

The more I read up on national issues and compare them to local issues; I see very little difference in the brands of Republican flawed policy. Today, Senate Republicans killed tax increases on the oil corporations which have been profiting enormously off the backs of Americans. While raking in the profits they have also peddled their influence and have blocked any substantive conservation programs or the development of clean and safe renewable energy sources. Like wise, Vermont’s Governor Douglass recently vetoed legislation that would have taxed the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant at a more equitable rate and would have set funding in place to develop greater energy efficiency and boost the development of alternative energy sources. From any vantage point, one should clearly see that the Republicanism of today has been corrupted by the corporate agenda and has neglected its duty of representing the people.

America is faced with a multi-faceted energy crisis, which needs desperate attention. Whether it is because of high costs, shortage of supply or the ramifications of environmental pollution America’s energy policies need to be changed. In 2006, President Bush admitted to America’s looming addiction to oil; however the influence of his associates is so strong that implementation of any viable policy is struck down instantaneously. Vice-President Cheney’s secret energy meetings has set forth an agenda of corporate thievery on the populace and while American’s suffer from higher gasoline, home-heating costs and electricity rates their associates have walked of like bandits.

In Vermont, aggressive legislation would have tackled these issues but unfortunately the enormous influence of the multiple high priced lobbyists of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant (Entergy Corporation based in Louisiana) have effectively peddled their influence into the Governor’s office and other Republican Legislators. “It is bad for business,” is their poorly patented cry, however lost in their cowardly cries is the question of what business. High profits and high fuel cost may benefit Exxon-Mobil and the Entergy Corporation, but in reality each individual citizen and small business is bearing the brunt of those costs. Small business, farmers and private citizens can not afford to pay the costs any longer while these enormous corporations fill the coffers of their CEOs and stockholders. The burden has been bequeathed to us the citizens and therefore our leaders should represent us.

Time in and time again, the American political spectrum ponders to the demands of the large scale global corporations. Instead of allowing all of the enormous profits to go unfettered to the corporations, our energy dollars should go to promoting efficient, clean and renewable energy sources. America needs an investment in its future and a commitment to promoting an environmental stable energy policy, otherwise all will be left with is the filthy residue of burnt fossil fuels and volatile nuclear waste while global climate change unpredictable threatens humanity. So while in Washington, like here in Vermont the Republicans have trampled on creating an affordable, efficient environmental energy source, I remind all my readers that it is our duty to reclaim our government and obtain a brighter future.

Robb Kidd

“The quicker we get about the business of reducing our reliance on oil the better.”

Condoleezza Rice, The lying Secretary of State who was a Chevron Executive and coincidently has an oil tanker named after her. So in one aspect these thieves admit the problem but block any attempt to do anything about. I guess money does talk in the land of hypocrisy.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Lost Suburbia

Over the last week I left my small rural enclave of Vermont and let for an adventure into the concrete jungles of New Jersey. Having been absorbed with life in rural Vermont, it had become a shock to return to my boyhood home. The plastic suburbs of New Jersey are not my vision of a utopian dream, but a mere nightmare. While to those living in the compressed communities of Manhattan the green grass and miniature fortresses decked out in the conveniences of modern life may feel that is pleasures of life, I quickly realized that the suburban sprawl has left vast gasps of culture and community behind.

Passing the hundreds of chain stores and flooded highways of traffic is a vacant look of desperation from its inhabitants. Whole neighborhoods exist where not a single soul knows are even cares about each other. A homogenized culture captivated on what is on the television. I found out that while I was there that the Soprano’s last show was being aired that night and for the next night it was another episode of HBO’s Big Love. If you have no life, the television is where you can experience it at all without ever leaving your home. To those communities, television has replaced the real and natural world of community and experience. There is little hope given except through their expressions of consumption. It is no longer keep up with the Jones it is keep up with the “Bradys” or whatever Hollywood or Madison Ave produced image.

Fortunately, while I was out visiting I had reasons to venture into New York City. Oh, what a relief. At first though, a venture into the Big Apple maybe considered horrifying coming from the big city of Montpelier (8,000) because there is so much noise, people and big buildings and there is little room for escape. One of the days, I visited a friend who had moved back to NYC from Orlando (the happiest place on earth). She couldn’t wait to get away from who she called the “bible thumpers just ready to bang each other over the heads with shovels.” I soon realized that NYC is far from the false reality prescribed by Disney and the popular American media.

Quite the contrary, NYC is a place to be, on any given street corner there is a plethora of activity and a diversity of cultures. You can go from “Chinatown” to “Little Italy” and then stumble into an artist collective all within a few blocks. New York a collection of individuals that you can be whoever you want to be. You can have the most outrageous quirks in personality and are bound to find at least a thousand others just like yourself. Compare that to here in Vermont, while there are not millions of people congregated within our borders, here we too have the freedom of individuality. Due to the sparseness of population, you can have whatever personality quirks and interests no matter how far fetched one may think they are, because quite frankly there is no one dominating culture to tell you that you are wrong. You can be whatever you want to be and that is the freedom to the soul. No prescribed notions of what culture is, or how you are supposed to be.

So leaving the suburbs of New Jersey, I was ecstatic to return to my home nestled within the Green Mountains of Vermont. I am glad I left the one-dimensional culture of suburbia and have been allowed to flourish like the budding of the trees. The “Big Apple” or the “Green Mountains” are places I can totally be free.

Robb Kidd

“Insist on yourself; never imitate... Every great man is unique.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Chicken Event Two...

“Why did the chicken cross the road?” Yesterday it appeared to be just another summer day in the quaint Mad River Valley town of Waitsfield, Vermont. People congregated outside of American Flatbread in the sweltering heat. Fridays normally amass a line up of people to wait for fresh flatbread made from their wood burning ovens and with mostly organic and local products. This was not a normal Friday because a similar day one year ago, George Schenk, the owner tried to contest state statutes and had planned to sell uninspected chicken from Hadley Gaylord’s farm, his neighbor at his restaurant.

The story continued and George was threatened with an injunction from the state to shut his restaurant down. Instead of a complete act of civil disobedience George followed the state’s directive, as not to risk the livelihood of his employees. Although, he and Hadley did back down they did not end it there. They contacted their local representatives and the farmer’s advocacy group Rural Vermont (please join) and launched a proactive campaign in changing the law. Throughout the legislative session farmers and concerned citizens lobbied and testified to countless committee hearings. As well Rural Vermont’s Executive Director Amy Shollenberger diligently stood watch and advocated on behalf of farmers and made sure that in no circumstances was this legislation diluted or killed. Due to the actions, of one man and one farmer a whole movement changed a senseless regulation and now once again the public can have access to locally raised poultry. So here in the Mad River Valley was a celebration of change.

For me Friday was a historic day, for I have been a vegetarian for over two and half years. I stopped eating meat for a multiple of reasons. The current factory farm system is completely environmentally unstable and having animals raised in unnatural confinements is inhumane. The factory farm system creates piles of toxic wastes that pollute rivers, streams and the water sources of a region. In addition, a huge amount of oil is burned to ship the meats thousands of miles is adding more carbon extenuating the causes of global.

As well as the environmental ramifications, the treatment of animals in the factory farm system is barbaric. Most animals never get to see the light of day and are confined to small quarters. While there are those who claim that animals do not have a soul, I refute that and have seen the innocence and purity with many of animal’s eyes. These animals are led a life of misery trapped in captivity and are forced to eat unnatural foods. Instead of grasses and other natural nutrients, most animals in the factory food system are fed corn, antibiotics and synthetic supplements. Having not been raised with their natural diets these animals are prone to diseases and ailments that weaken their quality of life, subsequently the poor diet and lifestyle is passed up the food chain to humans.

The factory food system is unstable for the animals, people and the planet. Having farmers, citizens and restaurant owners challenge archaic laws passed in favor of the factory food system is in order to restore ecological balance to the planet and our own lives. Laws can be changed but it takes courage for someone to stand up and challenge it. George and Hadley stood up and took the charge for it was the right thing to do, although smaller in scale, Rosa Parks similarly took a stand and challenged what was wrong. Stand up and be that change, change comes from within not from above. Last night, we celebrated in Waitsfield for the page is turning towards the proactive advancement of our culture.

Robb Kidd

“Get up, stand up, Stand up for your rights. Get up, stand up, Don't give up the fight.” Bob Marley.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Tooth Ache and Health Care Pain

Over a year ago I took a chance and quit my job that I had for nine years, nine months and eight days. There were many of my friends and family that told me I was crazy for leaving a job that had such good benefits, but for me that job was not worth my time anymore and I just had a irking in my soul to move on. I was fortunate of my circumstances to be able to leave my occupation and branch off into new directions and for that I am being rewarded with today. Although, I have been fortunate to be able to do that, I feel for all the others stuck in a job that they just do not like for the sake of health benefits.

While it has been risky not having health insurance I can say it sure has definitely been worth it, even with some of the additional costs without insurance. Back in October, I partially tore my rotator cuff in my right shoulder and due to not having insurance I did not see a doctor. In January, I had a filling dislodge itself from one of my teeth and likewise I did not go the dentist. So, once was able to come up with some money, I have now have been able to get treatment.

For my shoulder, I had to pay fifty dollars for the doctor’s visit. Yes, he did give me a break since I did not have insurance. Then subsequently, I had to go to a physical therapist twice a week for the last few months. That cost me over nine hundred dollars. Then as the pain in my shoulder began to reside, the tooth that lost its filling months ago became infected.

Unfortunately, the tooth was too late for repair and the determination was for it to be pulled. At first I was prescribed Vicadin and Penicillin to ease the pain and help hold back the infection while I waited my appointment with the Oral Surgeon. Despite taking the pain medication, the pain was too intense and my appointment was moved up a few weeks and it was pulled last week. The initial procedures cost me over two hundred dollars and eventually the surgery to add a tooth implant will cost at least fifteen hundred dollars. What scares me is that I have a whole mouth of teeth and having a history of poor teeth frightens me more.

Upon waiting for that tooth to heal, I had to have a crown re-cemented, that cost $79. Today, I went for an annual check and that cost me another seventy nine dollars. Oh, yeah, I have to go back three more times, once for a teeth cleaning, and the other two times for repair of fillings on two teeth.

Once I am settled up for my stint as a professional patient I will have accrued over a thousand dollars in bills for my shoulder and two thousand dollars for dental work. What is surprising about that is that I am a relatively healthy person in my mid thirties, so imagine what the cost would be with someone with a chronic condition or is in a debilitating condition. In my early twenties I was severely burned on seventeen percent of my body and was required to spend two weeks in a hospital. The seriousness of the situation required further outpatient care for months. In that particular case my subsequent bills were in excess of a half million dollars, who can truly afford that?

What perplexes me in today’s society is that we have a class of politicians who lecture us about the needs of cutting taxes. On paper, cutting taxes can be construed to many as beneficial; however in reality what all these politicians have done is cut taxes for the extremely wealthy and left the rest with higher burdens. Here in Vermont, Governor Douglass habitually propagates his agenda to combat “affordability” while on the hand leaving a deaf ear to real cost burdens such as health care.

The roots of our problems are not in the tax dollars but to the cost of our health care. Our towns, schools and our employers are faced with rising health care premiums and that is the real reason for rising costs in our lives. The reason too many of these politicians fail to do anything towards its solution is because they believe too much in the “free (failed)-market” of business. Multi national insurance and pharmaceutical companies have effectively killed any legislation that fosters an economically sound and affordable health care system. In other words the corporations have bought out our government.

The importance of the issue is we as society have to take back our government and provide real solutions to our problems. Health Care is a right and should never be a privilege. We in the United States live in the wealthiest country of the world and each and every one of us should be given an opportunity to succeed. I have been fortunate to be able to quit a job and branch out in a new direction; however I feel for those who just can not take that risk.

Robb Kidd

“The doctor glanced up at the statue of the Republic, then said he did not know if he was using the language of reason but he knew he was using the language of the facts as everybody could see them - which wasn't necessarily the same thing” Albert Camus, author of The Stranger

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Greener NH...

Living in Vermont, there seems to be a propensity of some folks to claim that is greener on the other side of the river. To those folks, New Hampshire’s lower tax rates are the basis to that claim, but there is strike difference to what New Hampshire has to offer than what Vermont does and I’m glad I have chosen to live in Vermont. To me Vermont has a higher quality of living and Vermont’s scenic downtowns meshed with the natural landscape is far superior to that of New Hampshire, but as for it’s political ambitions Vermont is progressive and is a leader in advancing the rights of all people and that is much more reassuring to me.

As of July 2000, Vermont became the first state in the country to authorize the practice of civil unions. Unfortunately of what could be seen as a triumph of civil rights and equality some folks considered it as a threat to their way of life and a large scale display of protest flurried throughout Vermont. The sign “Take Back Vermont” was predominately broadcasted from small farm houses to rural cabins throughout the state; however Governor Dean signed the bill in private. Vermont paved the way for the advancement of providing equal rights to all citizens, despite the complaints of a few. Following the path of Vermont, other states have followed suite, California, Connecticut, New Jersey have passed civil unions. In addition, Hawaii, Maine, Oregon, Washington and Washington DC have all passed legislation protecting those rights in some form or another. Massachusetts has taken it one step forward and passed full gay marriage legislation. Then just yesterday, New Hampshire joined with their Civil Union legislation going into effect.

Now, while there are those in Vermont who trumpet the green grass of New Hampshire, I just wonder if there will be signs of disgust throughout New Hampshire. “Take Back New Hampshire,” could be the motto, which I doubt will happen. So, while New Hampshire followed along, Vermont has taken other steps forward in protecting civil rights. Governor Douglass signed legislation protecting the rights of transgender persons. Although, he did sign it in close doors the legislation goes into effect to protect their rights as well.

Many of those some individuals who were upset over civil unions are just as upset over the transgender issue. The country’s progression for equality for all races and sex took many years and bold actions by a few states to evolve into the policies of today; likewise it will happen for the homosexual community and the transgender community given time. What is the true heart of the matter is there is too much fear in the minds of man and those in opposition will have to learn that giving rights to a transgender or homosexual individual will not change their lives.

So, while there will always be the greener side of the hill or in this case the river, we as a society must sometimes step away and see the reality of the matter. Equality for all is a right and it is unfortunate that states have to pass legislation to protect person’s rights of individuality. New Hampshire joined Vermont and other states in authorizing the practice of civil unions, so maybe some day the whole nation will have equality for all.

Robb Kidd

"No one is free when others are oppressed" popular political slogan