He Is Risen! (Relax; I’m Talking About Michael Myers)

How do I love the zombie related holidays???

Halloween, Day of the Dead, Easter…let me count the ways! Speaking of the magical bunny that travels the globe to deliver high fructose corn syrup and plastic eggs full of silly putty to deserving children (what do the bad ones get? Heroin and razor blades?) the genre of risen-from-the-dead in film has its own unique lore and whimsy. And just like on Good Friday, there is great comfort to be had in knowing that a world exists in which no one is ever really dead for sure. You can get stabbed in the neck with a badass knitting needle, gouged in the eye with a wire hanger, shot multiple times and fall backward off a second story balcony and live to tell the tale!

Not that Michael Myers is the chatty type. He is a man of action! A man, not unlike Jesus, of reanimation!

A man, also not unlike Jesus, with morals and values that he wants to share with the world! That is the other comforting thing about horror films—they have rules of conduct that can ensure your salvation.

Horror films and religion have a lot more in common than you might suspect, so let’s go there, shall we?

First off, the most obvious parallel is that both horror films and religion aim to scare you. Don’t agree? Most religions rely on the acceptance of an invisible entity that will punish you if you displease it or don’t follow its rules…hey, that sounds like the basic premise of a lot of great horror!

The Changeling, The Haunting, Burnt Offerings…invisible entities that punish you if you don’t follow the rules are scary as hell! Both religions and fright flicks are also heavy into the mythology that there are evil spirits (devils or Satan) that are out to trick you, whether by possession or temptation, into breaking the rules so that you will be punished by spending eternity in their company.

On this topic, The Exorcist is one of my top ten films EVER!!!

Also: total horseshit.

I don’t believe in the devil, or a version of God who lets the (imaginary) devil screw with his constituents, BUT it is fun and scary to pretend, right? Another thing is that both horror films and religions want your MONEY. Although the horror films only require the one-time admission fee.

There is no promise that giving EXTRA money to the horror film industry will get you any kind of protection from God, or even Harvey Weinstein.

Some religions promise you eternal life; Jehovah’s witnesses even think the saved will be resurrected after Armageddon, which seems frightening to me. Zombies also have eternal “life”, but it doesn’t look like it’s much fun. I think living forever sounds horrible, but I must be a minority. Michael Myers clearly agrees, however, because each time he resurrects he comes back more vindictive than ever!

Even Jesus only hung around for a few days, and that was to prove a point. Speaking of Jesus, his “frenemy” doubting Thomas would TOTALLY be the first to go in a classic horror scenario. “I don’t believe Jesus came back from the dead, I want proof, I want to put my hands into his wounds myself…”

WHAM! In the horror film version of that story, Jesus would cram his fingers into gory wounds, pierce his hands with nails for irony and say something like, “Do you doubt now, Thomas?” Thomas would slump to the ground, dead. And Jesus would kill the rest of the disciples for very good moral reasons, I’m sure.

Horror films and religion both posit that the good ones are “saved”. How do you know if you are a good one? Premarital sex, drugs and being unkind to the less fortunate get you a one-way ticket to hell in either. The meek shall inherit the earth!

And live to be the “final girl” in horror.

It is usually a girl that makes it to the end of any good horror film because let’s face it, a boy who doesn’t drink, have sex or bully is really just a loser, and nobody wants to watch a loser for 90 minutes. Virginal girls seem to have superpowers (like giving birth to Jesus!!!) while virginal boys seem like they might need a diaper change and a good burping. And woe to him that tries to lure our goody girl heroine to any immoral behaviors! Lucky thing Ben Tramer was never able to make good on the plan to take Laurie to the dance in Halloween.

Dodged a bullet there, Ben! Metaphorically, of course…Michael Myers kills people with his super strong bare hands. And Ben bites it in Halloween II, so that’s where impure thoughts will get you.

So if you, like me, enjoy being scared, you can curl up on the couch with your Netflix account…or go to church! If you like to listen to people telling you stories about a mysterious, unseen entity that enacts its own brand of justice on a hapless world, you should totally check out John Houseman’s opening monologue from The Fog. Or, you know, go to church.

If you like the idea that sex outside of marriage is bad and you should be punished for having it, you should go see the super scary film It Follows. Or church again.

If you like the concept of people coming back from the dead, pretty much any film by George Romero will work…or Easter mass!

Happy Easter, btw! Enjoy your jellybeans and the only benevolent zombie aside from Ed at the end of Shaun of the Dead. Great flick for laughs AND scares, if you are in the market.

Last thing religion and horror films have in common—get a good one, and it can be a real lifesaver. I feel totally prepared for both the possibility of an afterlife AND a zombie apocalypse. How can that be a bad thing?

— Originally Published on Your New Best Friend

The post He Is Risen! (Relax; I’m Talking About Michael Myers) appeared first on The Good Men Project.

from The Good Men Project http://bit.ly/2VTKPtY

The Second Best Time to Plant a Tree Is Now

A hairy, naked male and a hairy, naked female crouch over the body of an antelope they’ve just killed. They’re looking up with fear and fight in their faces as a huge bird of prey swoops down to try to steal their kill. A jackal lurks in the background, biding its time. It’s a frozen moment from 100,000 years ago, a flash in the life of a Neanderthal couple, reconstructed by scientists for a diorama at the Museum of Natural History. I saw this couple over Thanksgiving weekend when my family and I wandered into the Spitzer Hall of Human Origins. If you’ve ever been there, you know it’s strange and amazing.

This diorama especially grabbed me. I felt moved by it. My kids were fascinated. Something about it is real and poignant. It must have been so much work to bring down that antelope. The couple is alone in the open landscape, vulnerable to the fierceness of nature. I wondered if they ever got to just chill in their cave. Did they ever sing? Did they play? Did they love each other? Their Neanderthal bodies are wiry and strong, thin and scrappy from a lifetime of fighting for survival. They didn’t survive, of course. The early hominids went extinct, just like the dinosaurs before them. Unique expressions of the divine, like a single firework, exploding for a short time, showering light, and then gone.

How did they go extinct? Scientists say it was a mix of factors, possibly including violence from Homo sapiens and definitely the pressures of climate change. Yes, they had climate change; the climate has always been changing. But back then, it happened at a much slower pace—at least 10 times slower than ours today. Even so, the pace of change was too fast—the landscapes and plants and animals morphed, and the Neanderthals were unable to adapt.

Homo sapiens were able to adapt. Homo sapiens translates from Latin to “wise man” or “smart human,” and our adaptability is a hallmark of our species. As long as we had a good 1,000 years before things were really different, we were able to make the changes that we needed in time: where we lived, what we ate, and what tools we used. We were able to figure it out. And the unique spirit of life continued to flow through us.

This time around, we don’t have 1,000 years to figure it out. We don’t even have 100 years. According to the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on climate change, we have 12 years. That’s what they said. Only 12. We have 12 years to radically transform our economy, especially the amount of energy that we use and how we generate it, from coal, oil, and gas to solar and wind. Energy from hell to energy from heaven. This is not adapting to climate change—that’s a whole other set of things we need to do. This is about preventing the climate from changing so dramatically and so quickly that we are unable to adapt.

My fellow Homo sapiens, smart humans, we have 12 years.

And if we don’t? The U.N. report warns of catastrophic flooding, droughts, extreme heat, and poverty for hundreds of millions of people. Worst case, scientists believe we are heading toward the sixth mass extinction. We can hear the drumbeat clearly now—the fires in California getting worse every year, the hurricanes growing more violent, droughts, deserts expanding, thousands forced from their farmlands to become refugees. It’s happening.

Hearing the news these days, the drumbeat getting louder, I’ll tell you where I’m at personally. I feel scared for my children. I have twins, just 8 years old. I’m scared for them of what kind of shifting, collapsing world they are going to have to make their way in. Even with all of their advantages as White, well-educated, relatively wealthy Americans, are they going to have to struggle to survive? And they both want children of their own. I was telling them recently about a celibate monk I had met, and my son had a strong negative reaction, saying how sad it would be to not have ancestors, by which he meant, descendants. And I wish I could gush about how great it will be for them to have children and for me to have grandchildren. Except I’m not sure how great it will be for those grandchildren.

We’re staring into the greatest threat humanity has ever faced.

I’m sad that they will never get to experience the untouched beauty of the wilderness. Because what humans have done touches everything, everywhere. I’m heartbroken for all that we’ve already lost, for the wilderness itself and the polar bears and countless other animals whose stars will burn out before their time.

I also feel an immense sense of personal responsibility. I am a writer and the spiritual leader of a congregation. Am I doing absolutely everything in my power to inspire and nurture and activate people at this critical juncture in human history? And if not, what gives me—or anyone else with a public platform—the right to lead at this time? We’re staring into the greatest threat humanity has ever faced. Leaders of faith and conscience must honor the trust that people have given them by leading boldly and selflessly.

But I get distracted from the greatest threat that humanity has ever faced by the mundane necessities of life. My sense of responsibility to defend my kids’ future gets hijacked by my kids’ need for help with their math homework. My sense of responsibility to plant a seedbed of revolutionary change in my congregation gets hijacked by the need to let everyone know that Facebook is doing a matching grant fundraiser and they really ought to contribute to it.

And every single person I know is just like me in this respect. We all get absorbed in the work of life, and the joys of life, and the struggles of life, mostly doing things that when you take them one at a time are each valid and important, even noble. Some of us have trouble enough just making it through the day. Some of us are just trying to survive in an economy with virtually no safety net. Or an illness takes all our time and energy to manage. Or a family conflict. Or someone hacked our email or our bank account and we’re spending hours on the phone trying to sort it out. Someone breaks our heart and we’re spending a year feeling like we want to die. Or we fall in love, and we’re just too damn happy to worry about anything.

Our political life follows the same pattern. Political debate centers on the vivid human suffering of our time—our government teargassing people at the border, to take just one of thousands of nauseating examples. Politicians rarely talk about the existential elephant in the room, partly because this is not what their constituents are talking about, for all the reasons I just listed. Partly it’s because fossil fuel companies and chemical manufacturers and Big Ag are paying a lot of money to make sure that we don’t talk about it. They want to make sure that deregulation continues, that the science gets muddied, and that green referendums fail; to make sure that at global summits and climate talks, our delegation is actively promoting fossil fuels. And for good measure, they work to suppress the votes of poor people who are most affected by environmental collapse because they might actually vote to change all that.

So is this how it’s going to go down, Homo sapiens, smart human? Good people are too busy, and bad people are too smart? You can imagine some future diorama at a Museum of Natural History 100,000 years from now. It will depict a Homo sapiens family in an industrialized nation at mealtime. A female is lifting a package of food out of a microwave. A male is staring into a cellphone. A baby is drooling onto the plastic tray of a high chair, clutching something that looks like a Beanie Baby in one hand and a juice box in the other. A toddler is watching something on a tablet of some kind, laughing.

They say the best time to plant a tree is 30 years ago. The second best time is now.

Next to the diorama, the information panel reads as follows: “Homo sapiens roamed the earth for a brief 200,000-year span. Their extinction was precipitated primarily by rapid climate change. Unlike the climatic shifts of previous eras, this climate change was largely caused by these apex predators themselves, specifically by the burning of the remains of all the creatures that had gone extinct before them.” (That’s what fossil fuels are, by the way—you cannot make this stuff up.) “Archeological evidence suggests that Homo sapiens had discovered solar energy long before their extinction. But their primitive form of social organization and rudimentary ability to share resources may have prevented them from addressing the global threat in time.”

Our primitive form of social organization—basically the powerful oppressing the earth and those less powerful—has kept us from adapting. And some of us say it’s all too big, and we’re too late—we should have fixed this 30 years ago. And yes, in an ideal world, 30 years ago we would have switched to renewable energy, drastically reduced our consumption and waste, adopted plant-based diets, shared our wealth to alleviate the desperation of poor nations, and planted about 10 million trees. We’d be having a very different conversation right now. But the conversation we are going to have in 30 years—or in 12 years—will depend entirely on what we do today. And I mean today. This week, this season, this year.

They say the best time to plant a tree is 30 years ago. The second best time is now.

Never before has a species been able to foresee its own extinction. Never before has a species been able to prevent it. But we can. How do I know? Because there is something in us that rebels, in every cell, with every breath. Because when we open the eyes of our spirit really wide, we can see that our star is not ready to burn out yet. The life force of the universe is not done moving through us. If anything, it’s pulsing stronger than ever now.

You can feel it in the air. The forces of change are stirring. We are understanding that all of our struggles are one. Many of us and many people we know have become activists for the first time in our lives as we recognize that we have to take power into our own hands. There are at least 1 million organizations working toward sustainability and social justice. Several of the newly elected members of Congress are representing communities that had little voice before, and they are pushing for the New Green Deal. With the markings of evil so clearly scrawled right in front of us on national television every day, with the assaults on this Earth and its people now unmistakable for anything else, we are rising up.

We have 12 years left, a moment before us to be seized. Right now, we need political action. We need to boycott corporations whose greed is killing us. Every week, we can make a phone call, write a letter, speak out at a town hall—we can do something to fight back. A new climate organization has started in Great Britain called Extinction Rebellion, and a chapter is forming in New York City and other cities around the world. It’s about taking bold, direct action in defense of our future. I plan to be part of it, and I urge you to join me—blocking pipelines, getting arrested, physically obstructing the desecration of our ecosystems—because asking nicely is just not working.

We need the extinction rebellion. But we need something else, too. It’s not enough to just resist evil. It’s not enough to just yell, “stop!” We need a revolution. We need a vision of a re-sanctified earth. We need a dream of who we can be as a species. I don’t believe that the deep wisdom of the cosmos meant for us to stay stuck as Homo sapiens. Homo sapiens have been smart humans with great technology, but primitive forms of social organization that divide and rank people based on race and gender and hoard resources. We can be better than that. We are meant to evolve into something else, something of the heart and of the spirit, of deep compassion and broad vision:

Homo amandi. Loving person.

Homo amandi creates life-sustaining societies committed to restoring balance to the Earth. Let’s do it right now. Let’s make the heart decision to evolve into Homo amandi. Let’s compress the next 1,000 years of evolution into the next 12. It will be the evolution revolution. And the best thing about it is that every single one of us can participate in this revolution every day. We participate through our choices, through what we say in casual conversation, what we buy, what we click on, what we discard. Each action may seem trivial on its own, but we have to think big, think collectively, and ask, “What is happening through me? Is it the sixth mass extinction? Or is it the evolution of homo amandi?”

We need the extinction rebellion and the evolution revolution both. We need to be saying “no” with all our might to the powers that are doing violence, and we need to be saying “yes” to a new way of living in peace. I want it for my children, and I know you will want it for yours and for all those you love. I want to be a blessing to the Earth, not a curse, and I know you do too. My fellow Homo amandi, join me in seizing the day, this day—the second best time ever to plant a tree and become something new.

 

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Written by Ana Levy-Lyons

This article was originally published by YES! Media and is reprinted here with permission.

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The post The Second Best Time to Plant a Tree Is Now appeared first on The Good Men Project.

from The Good Men Project http://bit.ly/2Dre8Nv

A Little Brother Feels Excluded in ‘What are You Doing Benny’

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A little brother feels left out in ‘What are You Doing Benny’

I am the oldest of four siblings. This means sometimes people might feel left out of things. It is rarely on purpose, but it can happen at times. Benny’s little brother loves showing his older brother all the great things he is good at in What are You Doing Benny. All it seems to do though it get him excluded from whatever his brother is doing. I was able to read a digital copy of this book and here is what I thought of it.

You can read the plot for What are You Doing Benny here:

Benny’s little brother is really good at a lot of things — making potions and paper airplanes, building forts, putting on puppet shows, even petting the neighbor’s cat (he has a special way of scratching her just behind the ears). But whenever he tries to join in Benny’s activities, all Benny ever says is “No.” Maybe his little brother can watch him do cool stuff, if he’s lucky. What is a little fox to do, except give Benny a taste of his own medicine?

I enjoyed reading What are you Doing Benny. The characters were relatable and funny too. The illustrations were wonderful and did a good job of making each scene pop off the page. Anyone who has a sibling would probably enjoy this book. It also has a few good lessons for kids to learn too. One of the more fun stories I have read in a good while.

What are You Doing Benny comes out April 23rd. You can pre-order this book on Amazon, at Barnes and Noble and on IndieBound.

 

The post A Little Brother Feels Excluded in ‘What are You Doing Benny’ appeared first on The Good Men Project.

from The Good Men Project http://bit.ly/2PnJI3b

Living Sacrifices

By Hugo Sanchez

We all have experienced them, whether or not we wish to acknowledge them. They occur every day in our lives. Some are subtle and oftentimes taken for granted, others are extreme in their nature. Now whether we like to admit it or not, they help shape the fabric of our being.

Subtle examples of Living Sacrifices are: My Grandmother (who has been my Mother); my Mom (who although she didn’t know how to be a Mom, she was trying); the Female version of me (my Polar Opposite), My Better-half, who despite the double-life sentence I was given, chose to be here with me. Even if it has been at a distance; my Mentors (Family), Scott and Cheryl, who despite being complete strangers and not knowing me, showed me love with no strings attached and despite my rejection in the beginning, they never gave up on me. My Best Friend who was like a brother to me, he died keeping his promise. As kids we made a “pact.” We promised that we would bang the hood till the Casket dropped. He kept his promise. Instead of running, he chose to die for what we believed in.

It pains me now because what we believed in was wrong. The Emotions, the Love, the Bonds that we formed—all of that is real.

Show your Love and express it to your Living Sacrifices. But don’t just stop there. Show it to the World.

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5 Easy Lifestyle Changes We Can All Make to Help the Environment

What if I told you that you are capable of saving hundreds of gallons of water, being a better advocate for our planet, and shaving possibly hundreds of your hard-earned dollars off your electric and water bills every year?

Yes, you, with your hair in some sweet new type of three-second bun, trying to find the keys you swore your toddler couldn’t reach that are now probably cuddling with last month’s lost socks.

I have found that when it comes to environmental concern, you either get no regular media coverage – as little as 1.2% between 2011 and 2012, so good luck catching whatever they’re showing – or you get smothered by disaster after disaster while trying to inform yourself.

Either way, we end up feeling powerless or like destruction personified.

However, you can find much solace in the fact that there are plenty of warriors doing wonderful work, and that after a ban on a specific chemical in 1989, statistics are now showing that the damage to our ozone layer can shrink (albeit slowly).

While there’s no getting around the fact that the way most humans in the developing world exist is detrimental to the planet, there are multiple ways we can do our part to save the environment starting immediately, without breaking the bank or completely disturbing our routines and lifestyles.

Adopting a few fresh habits in these five categories will greatly benefit your impact on the environment.

1. Transportation

While the hole in the ozone may be healing itself, we still have a huge responsibility to limit our greenhouse gas emission levels. This calls for a serious analytical look at our everyday transportation routines.

We all obviously can’t afford to go out and buy a Tesla or Prius. But there are tons of little things to think about that can really make a dent in this issue.

If biking or walking to work or school is not an option, reach out to coworkers, classmates, and fellow parents to plan a carpool schedule.

Even one car off the road impacts those emissions. There are plenty of apps and services available to help you make this shift.

Positive shifts are happening behind the scenes in the public transportation field, too, thanks to the GROW America Act.

Pay attention to your “to-do”s and combine as many errands into one trip as possible.

Try never to leave your car running if you aren’t actually going anywhere – think bank lines, keeping your car running for heat or AC, and so on.

According to various sources, idling for just ten seconds burns more fuel and money than restarting your engine.

I recently found an article about the substantial benefits of online shopping with statistics that blew me away. According to the study referenced throughout the article, “Approximately 65% of total emissions generated by the traditional retail model stemmed from customer transport to and from retail stores.”

So while it’s important to consider how you’ll dispose of the packaging (reduce, reuse, recycle, donate), think of the lines and chaos skipped, gallons of gas saved, and tons of harmful gas not emitted by shopping online!

The 2016 Living Planet Report summary mentions the abundance-civilization-destruction-restoration cycle of China’s Loess Plateau, which is symbolic of any place in which humans become the dominant species.

“The crucial step toward restoration was the understanding that, in the long run, safeguarding ecosystem functions is vastly more valuable than the production and consumption of goods and services.”

We can and must be better.

2. Electricity Usage

We broke records in 2015 by using more clean, renewable energy than coal-based. India stepped up big time, both by officially joining the Paris climate agreement and by turning on a solar panel set so large it will have the capacity to “provide energy for 150,000 homes.”

Pope Francis spoke about environmental awareness being human responsibility, and his words swayed 3,500 churches to the green side.

This is certainly grounds for celebration, but it doesn’t mean we’re in the clear.

Energy-efficiency can work with your budget, so it isn’t always about emptying your wallet on special appliances (though they can save 30-80% on energy bills when used properly) or the installation of solar panels.

From choosing more efficient bulbs the next time you need replacements to closing air vents in less-frequented rooms, these little shifts add up. Take a few minutes before leaving the house to be sure all lights are off. Only run the dishwasher and laundry machines when they’re full.

Do a home energy audit to discover areas where you can save money. Find out how much energy your home uses with an energy savings calculator like this one, or use one of these nifty kilowatt meters to determine what’s costing the most.

According to a 2015 article, furnaces and hot water heaters draw about 20% of the energyused in homes.

Become good friends with your thermostat, and make sure any window, vent, and duct seals are sound. Choose more or less clothing over relying on the heat/AC whenever possible. Wash clothes in cold water, and try to not let water just run down the drain because it hasn’t reached a temperature to which you’re accustomed.

This silly video is full of surprising facts, including just how much America spends annually on “vampire” devices that are plugged in but not in use (spoiler alert, it’s over $1 billion).  So unplug what you’re not using, or utilize a power strip.

So many of our choices should take supply and demand into consideration.

You’ve heard the saying, “We vote with our money.” If we keep paying what we pay and not making conscious choices and progressive changes, we are creating the demand for more “dirty” energy.

3. Water Usage

Because any mandated water restrictions are state-specific and few and far between, we never really need to view water as finite or precious. (Our toilets are filled with cleaner water than many countries have to drink. Think about that for a moment.)

A shift in our perspectives, both collectively and individually, is necessary for a smooth transition.

Everyone is familiar with turning the faucet off while washing hands, brushing teeth, and doing dishes. Also, there are many home appliances now – toiletswashing machinesfaucets – that are substantially more water-efficient than they used to be.

But did you know that shortening your shower by just one minute can save around 550 gallons a year? Or that Americans could save upwards of $2.2 billion and $2.6 billion in water bills and energy bills for heating water, respectively, just by switching to a more efficient shower head?

I’ve adjusted my shower routine so that I usually only have the water running to dampen and rinse. I turn it off completely while lathering and scrubbing.

Making a monthly effort to check all sources for leaks can go a long way, too, considering the average family’s household loses large amounts of water this way annually.

We are literally pouring our money and precious resources down the drain.

Let’s set a better example for our little ones by learning with them.

4. Disposable Items

We have come a long way in the field of waste management (California’s killing it). From farmingto fashion, people have become more innovative (like this app that takes your pictures of litter and feeds it to companies to promote sustainability) and efficient in their quest to take care of the planet. Many countries have implemented incineration as a way to turn their garbage into energy.

Individuals have been taking strides as well, like this group that picked up four million pounds of trash collected by the tides along the coast of India.

In the US, we pay for convenience.

While statistics show that packaging waste dropped 6% between 1994 and 2012, most products still come tailored to the needs of the busy. (Of course, we must keep in mind that many of products that seem to be marketed to “busy,” “lazy,” or “stupid” people are actually extremely valuable for disabled folks.)

Earlier this week, I passed on a five-dollar container of pre-cut cantaloupe and instead bought a whole cantaloupe that had almost twice the amount of fruit than the container and was two dollars cheaper.

Spending ten minutes cutting the fruit myself resulted in more nutrients in my diet, more money in my bank account, and less plastic waste. And those are just the repercussions of a single choice.

We need to put our money where our collective mouth is, when we’re able to.

The average family of four would save thousands of dollars per year switching from bottled water to reusable bottles and a filtration system.

Try to reduce the number of new things you buy (especially things that are non-reusable), and if you must buy new/disposable products, look for ones that are reusable and sustainable.

Say no to – or at least reuse – plastic to-go utensils. Turn down or bring your own drinking straws (500 million are thrown away every day) and cups while you’re out.

Give excess packing material to your local post office or UPS for them to reuse.

Always have reusable bags handy for that last-minute trip to Walgreens. Shop from farmer’s markets or community gardens, when possible. Bring your own produce bags (or keep the paper/plastic ones you get from your grocery store) and containers from home.

Consider switching from disposable pads and tampons – 20 billion of which are discarded annually in North America alone – to reusable cloth pads or a menstrual cup. If you’re up for the challenge (see #7 and 8 here), cloth diapers are eco-conscious – and really cute – as well.

Opt out of junk mail, and look for a paperless option for your bills.

The possible shifts in this category are practically endless, and every step forward counts. Don’t be overwhelmed; having more options makes the goal much more attainable!

Again, when we reduce the demand for these harmful products, we take our power back.

I know we’re not all ready to marry our local bulk bins or commit to a zero-waste lifestyle(that’s my favorite video on this topic, by the way).

Ultimately, every one of us must decide to care about the trash we make. Conscious choices breed better circumstances.

5. Chemicals

There is a plethora of scary statistics about the chemicals we often use in our homes. (This listis particularly damning, but the information is sourced and extremely important. Read with a mind open and ready to change – and some form of comfort on standby.)

It’s important to take control of this area as individual consumers, because the majority of the chemicals we have access to have not been tested for human toxicity.

The EPA is not required to, and therefore cannot, test a chemical for potential risks unless a risk becomes likely to occur. The chlorofluorocarbon ban in the ‘80s helped immensely with the aforementioned shrinkage of the ozone layer.

Fortunately, there are sososo many different ways to combat all of this toxicity.

Access to green alternatives for anything you need is becoming more readily available and more cost effective (to possibly make your own) all the time.

This is a point where education becomes vital (thanks, WikiHow). Approach this change with care, as it is important that anything you decide to throw away is disposed of properly, in the right places. I don’t even want to think about how many mistakes I’ve made in the past by throwing some random cleaning solution in the garbage.

I know better now, so I do better.

If disposal directions are not listed, this website can help you find a disposal location in the US and Canada. You should be able to contact your local waste management facility wherever you live to find out the safest ways to get rid of toxic waste.

Remember that everything you put in and on your body always ends up somewhere else. Check for the three Ps: petroleum (-derived ingredients), pesticides, and preservatives when shopping for food, makeup, personal hygiene products, and anything else that may come into contact with your body and eventually the earth.

Don’t fret about the choices you made in the past.

Be excited to make better choices starting now!

***

We have the wonderful gift of being able to teach future generations how to live sustainably.

These changes vary in cost and impact, but they are all worth examining to protect your family and our planet. Everything can be implemented as you naturally need it.

Everyone is capable of helping. We hold so much power as consumers.

Revisiting the Living Planet Report summary, I will end with some thoughts about changing our way of thinking:

A prerequisite for effecting significant change in human systems is to understand the nature of the decision-making that results in environmental, social and ecological degradation.

Most decision-making happens after a significant event occurs. But that is not the best place to start when problem-solving, because that is not the problem. The event is a product of the problem.

We must dig to the most basic levels of our society – our “mental models” or belief systems. What do we really value? What do we really fight for or against?

These constructs are what pave the way for systems and guidelines to be set, and eventually lead to the disastrous events that we end up experiencing.

Big, beautiful changes are happening and will continue to do so; but if we don’t look at these issues at their sources, our children and grandchildren will just be applying Band-Aids over ozone holes.

Originally appeared on Everday Feminism https://everydayfeminism.com/2017/02/easy-changes-save-environment/

Photo by Gary Chan on Unsplash

The post 5 Easy Lifestyle Changes We Can All Make to Help the Environment appeared first on The Good Men Project.

from The Good Men Project http://bit.ly/2IxvyMs

How Do We Make Progress as a Nation? (A Call for Submissions)

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While there is a tendency in mainstream American culture to focus on the positive and assume the future will be better than the present, Mr. Sexton reminds us of a different view—one that chides the political class for their lack of progress on a number of issues that are of vital importance to the common people. The political left will likely respond to such grievances with calls to increase federal spending and, perhaps, to overhaul the healthcare and education systems. Conservatives, for their part, may downplay these issues, stress personal responsibility, or seek solutions in the private sector.

What is the “shared context” that Mr. Sexton speaks of? How might “crumbling infrastructure” and “failing schools”—or even the perception of decline and failure—affect masculinity both now and in the long term? We want to hear from you.

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The post How Do We Make Progress as a Nation? (A Call for Submissions) appeared first on The Good Men Project.

from The Good Men Project http://bit.ly/2IzlhiS

5 Ways Young People (and Everyone Else) Can Fight For the Environment

In Europe, teenage girls and young women are leading a large student environmental movement, and organizers in the U.S. are planning to join an international day of action on March 15. Against this backdrop, those engaged in environmental issues say that while there is strength in numbers during protest events, the difference often starts with individuals doing the right things daily for clean air and water – when no one is watching.

“Creating awareness on a massive stage is wonderful, but how many realize the responsibility each of us has in this critical battle and how it can’t be won unless we all make the necessary changes?” asks Leslie Landis (www.chendell.com), author of Chendell: A Natural Warrior, a fantasy novel with environmental themes.

Landis hopes her novel will expand awareness of climate change and inspire young people to work together and foster environmental improvements. The characters in her book have a special relationship with nature and that leads to a superhero who fights for environmental issues.

Anyone can be a hero in the fight against pollution; anyone can step up for any of the environmental problems that plague us and be a natural warrior,” Landis says. “From everyday habits to small lifestyle changes, doing those things daily can make a huge difference.

Landis lists five ways to be a natural warrior for the environment:

  • Take a tote. “Ditch the plastic shopping bag and opt for a more versatile alternative like a reusable tote bag,” Landis says. “States like California are already doing their part to reduce the use of plastic bags, and you can help carry that movement forward by keeping a handful of reusable bags in your house and car.”
  • Think before you drink. “Say goodbye to plastic water bottles by getting a reusable canteen or thermos,” Landis says. “Not only do these items help Mother Nature by cutting down on plastic waste, they also reduce your exposure to BPA and help keep your beverages insulated.”
  • Get thrifty. “The fashion industry creates a lot of unnecessary waste,” Landis says. “But you can help slow it down by giving discarded clothes a second chance. Shop at thrift stores, second-hand shops and vintage boutiques. By sporting looks from the past, you’ll actually be helping the environment in the future.”
  • Don’t put the pedal to the metal. Environmental experts talk about how we all leave carbon footprints by the modes of transportation we use. “It’s a lot larger than you think,” Landis says. “Fortunately, there are many alternative means of transportation. Whether you ride your bike to work, carpool to school, or walk, you’ll be saving yourself from the high price of gas while helping reduce carbon emissions in our air.”
  • Grow green. Whether you’re planting trees to combat the carbon emissions or planting an edible garden to cut back on store-bought waste, Landis says, “Putting your green thumb to good use will always have a positive effect on the government.”

It’s great to see young people in particular get involved in large numbers regarding climate change,” Landis says. “But it’s amazing how simple it is for everyone to get involved to save our most precious resources.

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The post 5 Ways Young People (and Everyone Else) Can Fight For the Environment appeared first on The Good Men Project.

from The Good Men Project http://bit.ly/2IMuqUu

You Are Not Alone: Overcoming a Challenging Childhood

Al Interviews Mike Veny_ Author, Drummer, Motivational Speaker and Mental Health Advocate

In this episode, Al interviews Mike Veny, author, drummer, motivational speaker, and mental health advocate (recorded 6-7-18). Mike describes a challenging childhood consisting of being hospitalized on three different occasions, being expelled from three schools, self-harming, having violent episodes at home, and attempting suicide several times…all by the time he finished tenth grade of high school.

After a significant depressive episode in 2011, Mike fell into advocating and speaking publicly on the topic of mental health. He has also recently published his own book, titled, Transforming Stigma: How to Become a Mental Wellness Superhero. Learn more about Mike and how to book him for an event on his website at mikeveny.com.

In addition to The Depression Files, you can find Al’s blog at allevin18.wordpress.com. You can also find him on Twitter @allevin18.

Originally published on The Depression Files
Photo by Shutterstock

The post You Are Not Alone: Overcoming a Challenging Childhood appeared first on The Good Men Project.

from The Good Men Project http://bit.ly/2Dp3F4Q

3 Things to Look at if Your Relationship Feels Smothered

Relationships can be great and many people put a lot of work and effort into finding that certain someone. Once you’re in a relationship—especially if you’ve spent a good deal of time single—you may be concerned that you’re going to “lose yourself” in that relationship. Here are a few things to consider if this sounds like you.

1. Avoiding Yourself

If you’re feeling smothered in a relationship an important first step is to look at if that smothering is serving a purpose. Is spending all that time with the other person making it easier to avoid something about yourself? The basic reason we engage in all kinds of negative behavior, from drug addictions to binge-watching Hulu, is to avoid certain feelings.

Maybe the feeling is a deep sadness, maybe shame, perhaps it’s loneliness. One of the most important parts of therapy is looking underneath all the thoughts, behaviors, and activities we engage in to mask those uncomfortable, scary, or deeply unsatisfied feelings. If you find yourself smothered in your relationship—even if you’re the one doing the smothering—it’s worth looking at what having that person with you 24/7 is keeping you from examining more fully.

What might their constant presence be providing the anesthesia for?

2. When “Stuck” is a Choice

A LOT of people come to therapy feeling stuck. It’s a word that just about all of my clients have used at one time or another. Whether it’s a man who hates his roommate, a father who is overwhelmed with having a child, or a woman who is struggling with her relationship—many feel they are boxed in.

Sometimes people are such as when they cannot get out of a situation for safety reasons and I’m not diminishing that. But I’ve found that when someone tells me they are stuck it often means that they are unwilling to deal with the outcome of their making a choice. A choice to open themselves up to—wait for it—uncertainty. The unknown of being alone, of losing a job, of couch surfing. And even these are somewhat extremes. Many people in relationships feel stuck because if they express how they feel then their partner will react. Maybe that person will cry. Maybe they’ll become angry and express that by withdrawing or bringing up negative historical events between the two of you. And you’re not sure if you want to deal with that.

I’m not saying that this isn’t difficult. It can be devastating. But it’s important to hold on to the idea that what you’re labeling as “stuck” is more of your attempts to avoid—for lack of a better word—unpleasantness.

Maybe knowing this you’ll still choose not to do anything or choose not to bring up that thing that’s eating away at you, but you take the first few steps toward being more empowered by knowing you’re making a decision to stay where you are. You’re not actually stuck. You don’t really like the outcome of making a move.

And I can’t stress enough how I’m not talking about situations of Domestic Violence, whether physical, emotional, or mental. If this is the situation you’re in, before doing anything, please get in touch with Safe Horizons via their hotline (800-621-HOPE) or website.

3. How Did You Learn What It Means to be In Relationship with Someone?

While we all collectively think we know what love will be like because of the media we’ve been consuming since, well, for some of us, since pre-natal days, our real understanding—and expectations—comes via the love that we witnessed every day during our formative years. No matter how many episodes of The Brady Bunch or Married…With Children you grew up with, the platform for how people in love respond to each other comes from what you live at home. Even growing up in a single-parent home doesn’t mean that you didn’t observe the human that you’re most connected to you have relationships—even friendships. This is how we learn to be a relational person.

If feeling smothered is something you’re drawn to, take a look at the relationships that were modeled for you. If you feel you’re being smothered, take a look at the same. Did love mean that someone had strict, rigid boundaries? Were you present for parents who barely told each other when they’d be coming home late? Then your understanding of what “smothered” is can be your partner texting you to ask what you’re up to tonight.

There are no hard and fast rules for what’s too much or too little time together. You absolutely want to hold on to your identity and have your partner hold on to theirs, but there’s a space for deep reliance on each other. You’ll need to work out the balance that makes both of you feel safe and connected.

Originally published on Huffington Post

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The post 3 Things to Look at if Your Relationship Feels Smothered appeared first on The Good Men Project.

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The Future of the Labor Movement Rests on the Achievement of Unconditional Basic Income

Today is May Day and International Workers Day and Labour Day, and beyond recognizing the past victories of the labor movement in achieving milestones like the 8-hour day and the 40-hour week, we really need to talk about the future of the labor movement in a world increasingly automated by machines.

As automation continues, potentially eliminating half of all existing jobs or more by 2030, eroding economic security and buying power through the growth of part-time jobs, low-paid work, temp labor, gig labor, zero-hours contracts, and freelancing, unconditional basic income represents the ability to empower all workers.

The ability for everyone to say “No” to any and all employers would have an undeniable effect on bargaining power. It’d mean greater profit sharing, higher wages, shorter days and/or weeks, improved working conditions, more flexibility, etc. UBI can even function as a universal strike fund.

Achieving UBI would be the achievement of new voluntary contracts on more equal footing between employer and employee, including the empowerment of the employee to become their own employer through UBI’s functioning as venture capital for entrepreneurs, and effective demand for customers.

UBI would mean a solid floor to stand on instead of a net full of holes to fall through or be trapped in. It’d mean a new age of greater equality, productivity, and innovation, where all are finally free to pursue the goals they wish to pursue, and ALL work would be recognized.

As it stands now, only paid work is recognized as having value. Why? Shouldn’t the labor movement also care about reproductive work, care work, volunteer work, and civic activism? Isn’t it time we started recognizing all the important labor going unpaid, of which there is so much?

Andrew Stern, SEIU’s former president and author of “Raising the Floor” believes UBI is the future of the labor movement and the policy we must all together now strive for in the 21st century. He’s also not alone. Unite the Union, UNISON, GMB, TUC, and more, these are unions with millions of members who are now fighting for UBI.

This century, the labor movement will require winning basic income as a new key victory, so as to not only win the gains of technology away from only continuing to fall into the hands of owners of capital but to actually return to achieving a previous goal — more leisure time.

The labor movement was never about more work. It was about making work, work for workers. That goal has been lost. What happened to the 3-day week or the 4-hour day? Why are we talking about creating more jobs for people instead of more work for robots?

Why is it that more than a century after achieving the 8-hour day, we’re now back to working around fifty hours on average in a country that is around three times more productive as it was in 1950? Everyone should be working less not more when we can do more with less. So what’s going on?

What’s going on is that we’re all being robbed. We’re being robbed of our share of the growing economic pie. We’re being robbed of our time. We are sitting and watching as more and more of the productivity growth goes to the top, forcing everyone to work more to not fall behind.

Does it make sense that as tech improves, humanity should be forced to work harder? Of course, it doesn’t.

Does it make sense that as work is automated, organized labor should fight for jobs? Of course, it doesn’t.

What makes sense is a fight for economic freedom.

What makes sense is a fight for a redistribution of power.

Everyone should have the power to refuse to work for another as a condition for their existence. The right to exist is unconditional, and so no one has the right to command your wage labor with the threat of destitution.

What unconditional basic income achieves is nothing less than profoundly historic. UBI is the declaration that all wage labor should be fully voluntary, all work, both paid and unpaid should be recognized, and that the goal of technology is to increase our control over our time.

As we celebrate Labour Day we should thus also be looking years down the road at what kind of new day we could celebrate decades from now. Perhaps someday, once we have freed ourselves of the fear of unemployment, every May 2nd at midnight, we could celebrate the End of Labour Day?

Originally published on Medium

◊♦◊The Good Men Project is different from most media companies. We are a “participatory media company”—which means we don’t just have content you read and share and comment on but it means we have multiple ways you can actively be a part of the conversation. As you become a deeper part of the conversation—The Conversation No One Else is Having—you will learn all of the ways we support our Writers’ Community—community FB groups, weekly conference calls, classes in writing, editing platform building and How to Create Social Change.

◊♦◊

Here are more ways to become a part of The Good Men Project community:

Request to join our private Facebook Group for Writers—it’s like our virtual newsroom where you connect with editors and other writers about issues and ideas.

Click here to become a Premium Member of The Good Men Project Community. Have access to these benefits:

  1. Get  access to an exclusive “Members Only” Group on Facebook
  2. Join our Social Interest Groups—weekly calls about topics of interest in today’s world
  3. View the website with no ads
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  6. Commenting badge.

Are you stuck on what to write? Sign up for our Writing Prompts emails, you’ll get ideas directly from our editors every Monday and Thursday. If you already have a final draft, then click below to send your post through our submission system.

If you are already working with an editor at GMP, please be sure to name that person. If you are not currently working with a GMP editor, one will be assigned to you.

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Have you contributed before and have a Submittable account? Use our Quick Submit link here:

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Do you have previously published work that you would like to syndicate on The Good Men Project? Click here:

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The post The Future of the Labor Movement Rests on the Achievement of Unconditional Basic Income appeared first on The Good Men Project.

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