Thursday, August 29, 2013


This week’s blog will introduce “The Easy (R)evolutionary.” These postings will give short suggestions for simple actions that anyone and everyone can take to create a safer, healthier, happier world - starting in our own backyard. Each one may not change the world overnight, but together they have the potential to do just that.


Too often we stay well within our comfort zone by avoiding conversation or interaction with people who are “different” - a different color, a different age, a different nationality, a different religion, or a different way of dressing or speaking. And staying in this zone all the time causes us to miss out on many opportunities to expand our connections to people and our understanding of the way they see things. Because the walls of our comfort zone are sturdily built from the stereotypes the Manplan has taught us.

But as an Easy (R)evolutionary you can look for everyday chances to open a door or a window in those walls. Whether it’s in your office, in your neighborhood, at a party or in a checkout line look for chances to speak with someone who doesn’t look like everyone you usually talk to. Even short, simple conversations have the power to break down a barrier or open someone’s eyes – maybe yours.

Communication breeds understanding.
Understanding breeds acceptance.
Acceptance breeds cooperation.
And cooperation breeds peace.

It’s as simple as that!

Thursday, August 22, 2013


"Who is more intelligent—a woman or a rat?" "A rat," they would say, and they were talking about themselves.

This was how women of the Untouchable caste (now called Dalits) in India had been trained to see themselves, but some were being trained to see themselves very differently – as village healthcare workers. These women had been shunned since birth by those around them and never allowed to even pump water from the village well because their touch was “poison” to higher caste people. But now, when two of these transformed women, Sarubai Salve and Babai Sathe, move through their village, people gather around them. They are no longer poison. In fact, Sathe has been elected the leader—or sarpanch—of her village, Jawalke.

How could such an amazing social transformation take place? Through the support of a program that sees such women as a means to not only transform the crushing lives of these Dalit women but to transform rural health care in India. Salve and Sathe are not doctors or even nurses. They have very little equipment, but they are responsible for the health of Jawalke residents. They see pregnant women, deliver babies, and then check up on mother and infant. They visit old people, take blood pressure, and check on people cured of leprosy. Life is much better in Jawalke and that is because of women like Salve.

"When I started, the children all had scabies and there was filth everywhere," Salve says. Small kids used to die. Pregnant women died during and after delivery. Poor sanitation led to malaria and diarrheal diseases. Children went unvaccinated. Leprosy and tuberculosis were common. Today these problems are almost non-existent, but the turn-around has not been quick or easy.

Thirty-eight years after the Jamhhed program began training Dalit women as care givers there are 300 villages that benefit from their dedication. In villages that have these Dalit angels half as many infants die and, even though half of all Indian children under age three are malnourished, in Jamkhed villages there are not enough cases to record. But the truly amazing thing about this social (r)evolution is that the changes go way beyond health issues.

Many of the Dalit women who became care givers were illiterate and destitute. As Untouchables, they were non-persons, not even allowed to wear shoes because higher caste people could not step on their footprint, and never allowed to enter a building or home. Many had been married at ages ranging from two-and-a-half to ten and then abandoned by their husbands. So their first step was to transform themselves beginning with two weeks of training on Jamkhed’s campus that gave them pride and confidence in addition to basic technical knowledge. Another secret to their on-going success is the network of continuing support they receive from weekly contact with each other for discussion and new training.

All Jamhked villages now have clean water and many have pumps in every backyard, most villagers have small gardens to grow fresh fruits and vegetables, and in an area that was once treeless villagers have planted millions of new trees. Sathe and Salve have organized eight women’s groups to make these changes happen in Jawalke, and their latest project is toilets for every house.

Even magically placing a doctor in every village wouldn’t have created these remarkable social improvements because as Raj Arole, co-founder of the program, says, "Doctors promote medical care because that's where the money is. We promote health." Dalit women who are Jamhked workers teach their neighbors about breast-feeding and good nutrition and hygiene. They help villages create systems for clean water and sanitation. Most importantly, they are culture-changing, living proof against the superstition and stigma that discriminates against women and low-caste people.

"When I started, I had no support from anyone, no education, no money," said Sathe. "I was like a stone with no soul. When I came here they gave me shape, life. I learned courage and boldness. I became a human being." Through women who were once degraded and tormented as Untouchables all the women of these villages see there is a better life for them. And now they know they ALL have the power to demand it and create it. (1)

(1) See National Geographic Magazine, Tina Rosenberg, @

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


In the middle of a yoga stretch the other day I began thinking about the gridlock that is gripping the U.S. Congress (you’re supposed to block stuff out during yoga but it just popped right in). That may seem like an odd time to reflect on politics, but it occurred to me because yoga is all about balance - of the spirit and of the body.

So I started thinking about how the inability of Congress to work together for the good of all Americans is a perfect snapshot of the social ills I talk about in Conversations with EVE. When did civility and compromise become dirty words? When did treating others with fairness and respect become “just for shmucks?” When did winning become more important than anything else – regardless of how much harm is done to others in the process?

I’m sure some of those attitudes have always been part of human nature, but for tens of thousands of years they were generally disapproved of and usually held in check to maintain healthy, balanced societies. That all changed though after the Myth of Male Superiority did away with social balance and redefined manhood. No, things just haven’t been the same since the values of the Myth made “winning” the only measure of a man and declared that those who compromise and consider the welfare of others aren't “real” men.

Social focus shifted from balance to winning quite a while ago and has been making life miserable for a lot of people since then. But today you need look no further than certain elements of the U.S. House of Representatives for a living, breathing, totally dysfunctional example of these Myth values in action:

** there is no informed debate about how to reduce hunger in America or how to achieve a living wage for middle income workers, but they defeated a badly needed farm bill because it ONLY cut $20 billion from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP (better known as food stamps) and they want to cut $100 billion,
** there is no meaningful discussion of other ways to provide all Americans with access to health care, but there have been 40 separate votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act without offering an alternative, and
** there is no will to pass significant immigration reform even when the bill was proposed by a bipartisan group of Senators and covers all the issues they’ve been insisting on: increased border security, increased employer verification, and clear requirements for any pathway to citizenship. This despite the facts that Americans overwhelmingly support the bill and the reforms are projected to grow the U.S. economy, help reduce the deficit, and generate close to a trillion dollars in revenue for the U.S. by 2044.

You see this kind of “dig in your heels rather than give a little for the good of everyone” approach to life a lot in our competitive, combative society. But when it becomes the way that elected representatives do their job (or don’t) in this country it’s gotten way out of hand.

So the next time you get the opportunity to vote for a member of Congress, choose those who can put the health and well-being of all Americans above their own need to win.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


We haven’t taken a snapshot of the “ups” and “downs” of EVE’s rights in a while. So let’s see what’s new.

Where we’re making progress:

On July 12th a young girl celebrated her 16th birthday in a very public way. The birthday girl was Malala Yousfzai and her “party” was attended by 500 young people from 85 different countries at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. She was there to be honored on her birthday, the day the U.N. has designated as “Malala Day” in honor of both the ordeal she suffered and her commitment to speaking out for the education of all, especially girls.

You may remember that Malala was shot point blank in the head by a Taliban member in Pakistan in October, 2012 while traveling to school. Through heroic efforts both in Pakistan and England she recovered from her wound and became a symbol of what the Taliban seeks to destroy – the power of education, change, and equality. And she has demonstrated one of the true strengths of feminism as an outspoken but non-violent advocate for universal education. As she so eloquently stated at the U.N.:

"Malala Day is not my day. Today is the day of every woman, every boy, and every girl who have raised their voice for their rights." "…thousands of people have been killed by the terrorists and millions have been injured. I am just one of them. So here I stand. So here I stand, one girl, among many. I speak not for myself, but so those without a voice can be heard."

We weren’t making progress when Malala was shot for trying to go to school. But the world’s reaction to that attack IS progress: honoring her advocacy and promoting universal education for the 61 million children who are still denied the right to basic education in the world today.

Where we’re losing ground:

A “Clear” sign of how much some corporate owned media think of EVE was made plain recently by Clear Channel Communications, Inc. This mega-corporation, “with 243 million monthly listeners in the U.S. has the largest reach of any radio and television outlet in America.” So it was both disturbing and socially dangerous when three Clear Channel Stations in Wichita, Kansas pulled radio ads for South Winds Women’s Center recently.

The stations pulled the ads off the air because they found them “indecent” but had no problem running ads for the local “adult boutique.” Really - health care for EVE is indecent but kinky sex is not??

Let’s see what words were so offensive that the station pulled them:

“At South Wind Women’s Center, our physicians are committed to providing quality reproductive health care in Wichita. Each physician is board-certified in family medicine or obstetrics and gynecology. Between them, they have over 80 years of experience and dedication, ensuring women are able to receive the care they need when they need it.”

So, it obviously isn’t the words in the ad that are the problem. Clear Channel pulled the ads because South Wind will be offering abortion services along with obstetrics, gynecology, and adoption services. This refusal to air information is a slap in the face not only for EVE in Kansas who need to find a health care provider but for every EVE in America who think their health care is not “indecent.”

But what’s most frightening is the impact that this type of corporate media censorship can have on all information and reporting that affects EVE. Will media owners decide that they aren't going to run ads for EVE political candidates because they don't think EVE should be elected to office or suppress reports on the rapes and murders of EVE because they're "disturbing?"

Once corporations can get away with deciding what information is “decent” enough for us to hear just because they don’t agree with it we’re all in serious trouble – not just EVE!