Healing Our World: Weekly Comment

By Jackie Alan Giuliano, Ph.D.

No Difference between Republicans and Democrats?

In the great night my heart will go out;
Toward me the darkness comes rustling.
In the great night my heart will go out.

- Papago prayer

I will nurse this autumn carefully,
treat its brittleness gently,
smooth its crumbling edges, its weeping afternoons.

- Wendy Smyer Yu

It has come to light this week that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been secretly negotiating with huge hog and chicken farming operations to suspend the rules of the Clean Air Act as well as Superfund laws for these mega-polluting operations. This is just another in a long series of assaults on our precious life support systems by the Bush administration.

It has also become apparent that the number of civilian deaths in Iraq, currently numbered in the thousands, may become larger after the war than during the bombardment. It seems that the thousands of unexploded missiles and bombs we left behind are killing and maiming children by the dozens every day.

I wonder if any of the Greens and other independent voters who proudly proclaimed that there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans still feel that way today? Sadly, many of them still don’t get it.


Hog lagoons like this one in Ohio pollute air and groundwater. (Photo courtesy USDA)
Hog and chicken farms are huge polluters, not to mention perpetrators of unspeakable horrors against the animals within their walls. Some of these large hog farms produce twice as much effluent as the entire human population of major cities. In hog farms, contamination of underground water supplies is rampant, and there is serious air pollution from ammonia, methane, and hydrogen sulfide gases that rise from the evaporation ponds where millions of gallons of pig excrement is pumped.

The inhumane treatment of factory farmed hogs and chickens have long been documented. Besides being subjected to a variety of diseases and psychological traumas, confined hogs are allowed very little movement during their six month life. After being jammed into trucks for transport to the slaughter house, a process that kills over 80,000 pigs each year, they are supposed to be stunned to death before being processed. However, stunning is very imprecise, and many conscious animals have been videotaped hanging upside down, kicking and struggling, while a worker tries to stick a knife in their neck. If the worker is unsuccessful, the pig will be carried on to the scalding tank where he/she will be boiled alive.

Yet while these carefully orchestrated obscene assaults on our world and its people are being carried out by the Bush administration, some Greens I have spoken with in the last few weeks are still carrying a torch for an idealistic dream world that cannot exist today. This lack of a grasp on reality may insure a Republican victory again, like it did in 2000 when many Democratic votes were siphoned off by those who voted for lackluster Green Party presidential candidate, Ralph Nader.

I heard an interview about people's concerns for the next election and one woman summed it up for me. She said that we don't have the luxury of voting for the candidate that satisfies what is in our hearts. We must select the Democratic candidates - whoever they are - who can win.


Attorney Ralph Nader was the Green Party presidential candidate in the 2002 election. (Photo credit unknown)
This attitude doesn’t mean that we give up on our dreams. I think that a healthy practicality can exist that forces one to act in ways that might seem out of step with one's dreams and one's heart.

For example, while in my heart I want to live in a progressive paradise where everyone challenges assumptions, calls things by their right names, and has compassion for every living thing, I also know that such a place is essentially impossible to achieve right now given the reality of who is in power.

It can exist in my own life, but given the nature of a dynamic population like in the United States that has been raised on very wrong assumptions about the way things work, it may never be possible on a national or global scale. That doesn't mean that those ideals don't reside firmly in my heart and drive my every action. But it does mean that I can look at things around me with a sober realism and know that in order to move toward the direction of my dream, I will need to do certain things.

It is a fallacy to think that a third party is the way to achieve the progressive, compassionate reality that lives in some of our hearts. It is natural to want to wipe a slate clean and start over, but it isn't always necessary. There are usually plenty of ways to work with the ingredients that are already on the shelf.

In fact, the desire to throw it all away and start fresh may come from some of the very things in our culture that many resent and rebel against. Throwing things out is a uniquely American attitude. Most other cultures are much better at using existing resources and ingredients already on the shelf than Americans are because of the very thorough brainwashing we have received about throwing away the old. In Western ways of thinking, new is almost always considered better, and that which is old is considered outdated.

So, the desires I have in my heart for what the world should look like that I teach and write and talk about are what is important to me. They remain constant even though I know that certain political realities exist. Here are some of those realities as I see them:

So, we get to keep our dreams - they are what keep us focused. But the way to implement our dreams is over decades, not over months or years. Those in power have been running the show for nearly a thousand years. It's not going to take us that long to get it back, but we can't do it unless we learn from their successes and start being very, very practical.

Bush's plans are the most serious threat to world security since the times of the Roman Legions. We have to set aside theory, ideals, and the hope to satisfy the ideals in our hearts. We have to be profoundly practical and work together to insure that a candidate who can win challenges Bush - and in the near term that can only be a Democrat.


1. Find out who your Congressional representatives are and email them regularly. Tell them it is time to protect environmental legislation and for sweeping environmental protections. If you know your Zip code, you can find them at: http://www.visi.com/juan/congress/ziptoit.html

2. Visit the Center for a New American Dream and see that another way is possible at: http://www.newdream.org/

3. Learn about the civilian death toll in Iraq from Iraq Body Count at: http://www.iraqbodycount.net/

4. See the “Frontline” report on the new Bush U.S. world doctrine at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/iraq/themes/

5. Visit the Environmentalists Against War website at: http://www.EnvirosAgainstWar.org

6. Read about factory farm pollution at: http://www.sierraclub.org/factoryfarms/

7. Learn about the abuses of factory farming at the Farm Animal Sanctuary at: http://www.factoryfarming.com/index.htm and the Humane Farming Association at: http://www.hfa.org/pigs-2.html

{Jackie Alan Giuliano, Ph.D. is a writer and teacher in Seattle and the author of "Healing Our World," A Journey from the Darkness Into the Light," available at: http://www.xlibris.com/HealingOurWorld.html and “Of This Earth, Reflections on Connections,” available at: http://ofthisearth.org. Please send your thoughts, comments, and visions to him at: jackie@healingourworld.com and visit his website at: http://www.healingourworld.com}