Tag Archives: China

The Coolest Meditator In The World

The Dalai Lama @ The Vancouver Peace SummitHe turned 78 last Saturday and still says he meditates for three hours every day, starting at 4 am. He says he is just a simple monk and that kindness is his religion, calling for love and compassion to promote world peace.

When we met with the Dalai Lama he was standing on his veranda overlooking the beautiful Himalayan Mountain range, smiling and waving for us to come. We went to bow as is the tradition but he lifted us, took our hands, and said: “We are all equal here.”

We really didn’t know what to expect as he walked us into his sitting room. We imagined this spiritual leader to millions would be a serene Buddha-like figure sitting on a throne, yet he sat between us on his couch, still holding our hands, for forty-five minutes. He was the most ordinary person we ever hung out with. The world’s greatest meditator was simple and unassuming, he felt like our best friend, and he laughed a lot.

Ed and Deb Shapiro with the Dalai LamaJust by sitting with the Dalai Lama we realized the effect of his years of meditation, as his very presence emanated all those qualities that meditators seek, such as inner peace, loving kindness, authenticity, and mindful awareness. This is particularly seen in his devotion to ahimsa, non-injury, and his policy of non-violence, which is why he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.

Research, such as that conducted by neuroscientist Richie Davidson, a friend of the Dalai Lama’s, at Wisconsin University, and shared in our book Be The Change, proves how meditation actually develops the part of our brain that increases compassion and loving kindness. “By training the mind, we can actually change the brain toward greater contentment,” says Dr. Davidson in Be The Change. “There is certainly evidence to show that meditation practices designed to cultivate compassion and loving kindness change the brain in many positive ways.”

However, the mind desires endless entertainment and much prefers being distracted than facing the constant dramas racing around inside it. The idea of sitting still and watching our breath can appear boring, meaningless, even a time-waster, and not at all fun or creative. Yet meditation invites an undoing of what isn’t and a revealing of what is; we don’t become someone else, rather we become more who we really are, which is far from boring! It is about being fully present in this moment, no matter what we are doing: if washing the dishes, then let any thoughts and distractions dissolve into the soap bubbles; when eating, be aware of every bite, taste, and texture.

As the Dalai Lama wrote in the foreword to our book:

I strongly recommend anyone interested in meditation not to simply read what these people have to say, but to try it out. If you like it and its useful to you, keep it up. Treat this book as you would a cookery book. You wouldn’t merely read recipes with approval, you’d try them out. Some you’d like and would use again. Like cookery, meditation only makes sense if you put it into effect.

A regular practice of meditation can produce discernible changes in the brain in a matter of just six to eight weeks. To feel the difference in yourself try the practice below.

Weed Pulling Meditation

Find a comfortable and upright place to sit. Take a few deep breaths, then watch the flow of your breath as it enters and leaves.

Now bring your focus to your heart, and as you breathe in feel as if your heart is opening and softening; as you breathe out, release any tension or resistance. Sit here for a few minutes.

Now visualize yourself walking in a beautiful but overgrown garden. All sorts of colorful flowers surround you, but among them are numerous weeds.

You find a place to sit amidst the plants and mindfully begin to remove the weeds. Each one represents a negative aspect of yourself or your life. Name it as you remove it, and watch it leave your mind as you discard it.

The more weeds you remove the lighter you feel, as if a weight is being removed from you. As you do this, the flowers are growing stronger and brighter.

Stay here as long as you like. You may not have time to pull up all the weeds, so before you leave promise that you will be back again to remove some more.

When you are ready, silently repeat three times, “May I be happy, may my mind be like a beautiful garden.” Take a deep breath and let it go. Then fill the rest of your day with kindness and smiles.

* * *

Listen to our weekly LIVE radio show every Tuesday at 8:00pm EST: Going Out Of Your Mind.

Join our Be The Change Meditate e-Conference that will uplift and inspire you. 30 eclectic meditation teachers, including Marianne Williamson, Congressman Tim Ryan, author of Mindful Nation, Sharon Salzberg, Robert Thurman, Gangaji, Joan Borysenko, Seane Corn, neuroscientist Richie Davidson who proves how meditation affects the brain, Roshi Joan Halifax, Tara Stiles, and us, Ed and Deb Shapiro, authors of the conference companion book, BE THE CHANGE: How Meditation Can Transform You and The World. Expect your life to never be the same again!

For more information: www.edanddebshapiro.com

photo by: Kris Krug

The Healing Powers of Burgers and Fried Chicken

Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 4.10.30 PMCan burgers and fried chicken really be good for you? Yes. But not the Five Guys killer burger—not that kind. It’s burgers and chicken you cook yourself. And why do you need to cook them yourself? Here’s why.

Eating out can kill you, especially if you eat fast food or the addictive processed sugar and fats typically packed into almost every food that is made in a factory. The average American eats 29 pounds of French fries, 23 pounds of pizza, 24 pounds of ice cream and consumes 53 gallons of soda, 24 pounds of artificial sweeteners, 2,736 grams of salt, and 90,700 milligrams of caffeine per year. Do we really think we can create health in that toxic food environment?

A young New Zealand woman with eight children recently died after consuming 2.2 gallons of Coke per day, which, by the way, contains two pounds of sugar and 900 milligrams of caffeine (enough to give an elephant palpitations).

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on a study that showed life expectancy declining among women in America, especially in the South (the area with the highest rates of obesity and diabetes in the country). The authors of the study were quoted as being surprised by this data. One Harvard researcher said that trying to figure out why “is the hot topic right now, trying to understand what’s going on.”

Really? Life expectancy drops as obesity, diabetes, and the consumption of junk food, fast food, and sugar soars, and researchers fail to see the connection? It’s not rocket science. And yet, Harvard scientists are perplexed, and the National Institutes of Health spend $800 million each year studying the cause of obesity.

The cause of obesity is complex, to be sure—increased stress, environmental toxins, our sedentary lifestyle, and our sleeplessness as a nation all play a role. But the elephant in the room here is our toxic industrial food supply, specifically sugar. To paraphrase President Clinton, “It’s the food, stupid.”

I just returned from China where they are experiencing the same chronic diseases and obesity we find in the West because, on every corner, at every turn, our industrial food culture has permeated their world—KFC, McDonald’s, Subway, Coke, Pepsi are everywhere. Today, China has the most type 2 diabetics in the world. Yes, they have more people, but their diabetes rate is about the same as that of the United States: about 10 percent. Thirty years ago, I traveled to China and saw only one overweight woman, and she was riding a bicycle. In 30 years, the rate of diabetes there has gone from one in 150 to one in 10, and now, one in five people above the age of 60 in China are diabetic—and 60 percent are not even diagnosed. Obesity and diabetes are rampant there, increasing at a far faster rate than in the United States, and this shift can be tied directly to how fully they have embraced our processed, industrial, high-sugar diet.

I am the chairman of the Institute for Functional Medicine, and we were asked by the Chinese to come and teach their physicians how to deal with lifestyle-related chronic disease. A group of us went to show them how to return to their traditional ways of using food as medicine.

It’s sad that a country in which food has long been considered medicine—with specific care taken to include special foods with healing properties at every meal—would need to relearn this knowledge. In fact, the word for “take your medicine” in Chinese is “chi yao,” which means, “eat your medicine.” We went to a special restaurant where everything on the menu was chosen for its medicinal properties, including all sorts of exotic fungus and plants and animals like sea cucumbers.

But we don’t need to eat funny-looking plants and animals with weird textures and tastes to eat our medicine. In fact, we can start with burgers and fried chicken.

I recently did a segment on The Dr. Oz Show during which I demonstrated how to use food as medicine, cooking recipes from my new cookbook, The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook. I carefully selected healing, medicinal, blood sugar-balancing ingredients, disguising them as our favorite foods.

It might surprise you that burgers and fried chicken can be healthy, but keep in mind, my versions of those foods have stealth healing properties. All the recipes in my cookbook contain medicinal foods. They are medicine, but they don’t taste like medicine, because at the end of the day, if they did, no one would eat them. But they are made from real, whole, fresh food cooked from scratch, and they taste amazing. To help you truly understand how food is medicine (not just like medicine but actually real medicine), I have analyzed two recipes from my cookbook that we demonstrated on The Dr. Oz Show.

Sweet Potato Burgers (on page 114 of the cookbook)

Here are the ingredients, along with information on how each affects your health and your biology:

  • Sweet potatoes contain carotenoids, which is reflected in their orange color. Their phytonutrient properties help with weight loss by increasing adiponectin, a fat-reducing, insulin-balancing, anti-diabetes hormone made by your fat cells.
  • EVOO, also known as extra virgin olive oil, is a phytonutrient superfood. It contains oleic acid and dozens of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory polyphenol compounds that lower blood pressure and promote health. They also contain good monounsaturated fats.
  • White beans contain good plant proteins, fiber, and magnesium. The fiber helps lower your blood sugar.
  • Curry contains turmeric and other anti-inflammatory spices. Obesity and diabetes are inflammatory conditions. Turmeric is nature’s ibuprofen. It also prevents cancer and dementia (both related to diabesity).
  • Almond flour contains protein, fiber, magnesium, and healthy monounsaturated fats. It helps lower LDL, or bad cholesterol, prevents diabetes, and promotes weight loss. People who ate more almonds have been shown to reduce their risk of diabetes significantly.
  • Avocado contains phytosterols, which are fats that lower cholesterol. They also contain omega-3 fats (ALA), as well as carotenoids, selenium, and zinc. Avocado has eight grams of fiber in one cup and is very low in carbs. The fats in an avocado help you absorb all fat-soluble antioxidants, just like the carotenoids in the sweet potato do. Avocado also contains these special seven-carbon carbohydrates that help to lower blood sugar.
  • Tahini is made from sesame seeds, which contain a special fiber called lignan (seamolin and sesamin) that lowers blood pressure and cholesterol. It is very high in magnesium and calcium, containing over 30 percent of your daily needs in just one quarter of a cup. It is the best source of dietary calcium (far better than milk).
  • Lemon zest contains limonene, which boosts liver detoxification, and the lemon juice contains anti-cancer bioflavonoids.
  • Garlic contains 1,2-DT (1,2-vinyldithiin), which is an anti-inflammatory sulfur compound that can inhibit the number of fats cells that form in our body. And it can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol and is a natural antibiotic.

Not bad for a burger!

The next recipe is fried chicken. I call it “unfried” chicken. Click here to check it out!

 

Originally published on my website, DrHyman.com

Watch the Philadelphia Orchestra Flashmob an Airplane Stuck on the Tarmac!

What would you do if your plane had a 3-hour delay on the tarmac before taking off? Why, whip out your violin and play a bit of Dvořák, of course!

This is precisely the situation The Philadelphia Orchestra found themselves in as they waited for a flight from Beijing to Macao during their 2013 Residency & Fortieth Anniversary Tour of China. Instead of complaining or cranking their headphones, a quartet of musicians decided to pass the time by offering a “pop up” performance for the passengers.

Watch them execute this mini concert in the cramped and crowded aisle of their plane, to the delight of passengers all around:

Wouldn’t it be great if that happened every time a flight was delayed? Perhaps we should think more often about ways of building a sense of community and bringing smiles to people’s faces, especially in situations that are particularly taxing!

Deepak Chopra: Is India Having a Crisis of Soul?

திருவண்ணாமலை (Thiruvannamalai)

By Deepak Chopra, M.D. & Jim Clifton, CEO Gallup Organization

When they think of India, many people still have the shining image of it as a rising economy, one of the four most promising in the world, in fact. As one of the BRIC countries, along with Russia, Brazil and China, India’s rise from a long history of poverty raised hope for the rest of the developing world. So it was startling when Fareed Zakaria recently asked on CNN, “Is India the broken BRIC?” In the same vein, Jim O’Neill, the most important global economist at Goldman Sachs, and the man who coined the term BRIC, considers India the biggest economic disappointment with its 5 percent fall in growth since 2010.

What makes the disappointment worse is that since the early 90s, as Western media and business people were jetting back and forth between India and China sizing up these two growing economic giants, business magazine covers, famous economists and top CEOs at conferences were saying, “India is the one to watch, not China.”

How did so many brilliant prognosticators miss so badly? As economists ponder what went wrong, the Gallup data gives telltale clues on the human side. Economics comes down to millions of individual workers and what they experience at work. The worker’s story from India is discouraging. A staggering 33 percent of employees are what Gallup scientists refer to as “actively disengaged,” meaning not only are they miserable at work, but they walk the halls and petition their colleagues to be as miserable and discontented as they are. On the positive end of the spectrum, a tiny 9 percent of Indian employees are engaged. These are the people who build new products and services, generate new ideas, create new customers and ultimately spur an economy to create more and more good jobs.

The workplace tends to be symptomatic of society as a whole, and here the picture is just as gloomy. India’s state of mind is severely troubled right now. Gallup’s World Poll, currently in its eighth year in the field, finds more Indians than ever are “suffering” — 31 percent — while fewer are “thriving,” just 10 percent. This is among the worst in the world.

When any society reaches a low point of well-being with a sizable number of people suffering, it is in trouble. When the quotient of suffering sharply rises (as it did in Libya before the Arab Spring and is happening today in Egypt), social turmoil often results. The street rioting over sexual harassment of women in India — an endemic problem that the government and judicial system turned a blind eye to for decades — is another warning sign.

What will happen next? Officially, India is being upbeat about its economic projections, with a forecast of growth between 6 and 7 percent for 2013 after falling below 7 percent for the past two years and generally under-performing since 2008, according to a recent story in the New York Times. In the Gallup data, 36 percent of the Indian population rated economic conditions as “good” or “excellent” in 2012, as compared to nearly half (46 percent) who thought so in 2008.

Of course, we are rooting for India’s economic uptick, but the human side needs deeper examination. In many ways India is facing a crisis of the soul. When only one person out of 10 is thriving, and around that number feel engaged at the workplace, it indicates that the vast majority are not reaching a desirable level of fulfillment — far from it.

A nation’s soul is the sum total of all interactions between all people in that society. Every moment lasts a few seconds and is positive, negative, or neutral. In those moments, people may make very tiny decisions that, as they accumulate, can profoundly change their day and even the rest of their lives. An old adage says, “Miss a bus, and you change the rest of your life.” In our world of unprecedented interconnectedness, that axiom may need updating: “Miss a bus and you change the rest of the world.” With India’s vast population, there are trillions of interactions per year. If they swing too far to the negative, the society’s soul is suffering a malaise.

Analysts point to large-scale problems, such as the widespread corruption that persists in Indian government, local and national, and the failure of reform parties to gain a strong political footing. But we think the story of moment-to-moment experience counts the most. What if every interaction with a bureaucrat brings expectations of obstacles, red tape or a bribe? What if every woman walking out alone expects catcalls, whistles and physical intrusions from men on the street? What if domestic violence and rape go hugely under-reported and when reported lead to minimal consequences for the perpetrator?

India needs to come to terms with its soul sickness, and slowly, haltingly, it seems to be. Most Indians are lodged in the slot of low expectations. The Gallup data shows a surprising complacency, because despite the alarmingly low level of well-being, around 60 percent of Indians between 2006 and 2011 said that they were satisfied with their standard of living. The bubble seems to have burst since then, however, with that figure dipping below 50 percent in 2012.

There is something important here that India’s leaders — and all global leaders — must consider: A nation’s soul precedes its human development. Organic human development will not occur in India if the majority of everyday experiences are negative. Even so, India’s resilience and optimism — along with its resignation in the face of problems going back for generations — gives hope that the country will look to its soul. A great culture can only persist by doing so. We are pained to deliver gloomy news, but our deepest feeling is that the most spiritual nation on earth, and its largest democracy, can find a path to reform, with the well-being of its people held out as a primary goal.

deepakchopra.com

Follow Deepak on Twitter

Related Articles:

Deepak Chopra: Your Brain is the Universe

Why the Universe Is Our Home – It’s Not a Coincidence

Deepak Chopra: Why Did Mother Nature Do This To Us?

photo by: VinothChandar

Best Idea Ever: Public Venting Chambers For Stressed-Out Women

Now why don’t we have more of this in America? 

Spotted on Boing Boing, a shopping mall in Shenyang, China now has a women-only venting room where ladies can smash TVs, beat up bean bags, tear paper, smash plates and other cathartic physical activities in a setting that is modeled after a generic living room or bedroom. As the original article on People’s Daily Online reports: 

The store prepares some motorcycle helmets and gloves for customers to wear to avoid accidental injuries. At the same time, considering long-time ‘venting’ may bring passive impact to customers, the store limits the time to 1 minute.

Wang told reporters they do not charge for women who have purchased at least 38 yuan of goods in their shopping mall’s indoor park.

The majority of the participants are white-collar and university students who are stressed about the economy and lack of job opportunities.

The only American equivalent I can think of is the now-closed Smash Shack in San Diego, California, where participants were invited to smash glass plates, cups and other fragile dining utensils against a wall for a fee.

It seems to be a universal idea, though, that smashing up stuff can sometimes be good for you. More and more research studies are showing that suppressing negative emotions or trying to hide your anger are probably the worst things you can do when you are feeling bad. Women particularly are guilty of this.

Engaging in spurts of intense physical activity, on the other hand, increases your endorphines, ups your heart rate, and helps you release the toxins that you have been bottling up from long-term stress.

Granted, most of us do not live in Shenyang, China and we are all probably in need of a good cathartic vent that will release us of our toxic stress. What are other physical actions we can employ in our own lives without resorting to smashing our old television sets and computer monitors? 

– Tear up old scratch paper

– Scream in your pillow

– Do karate kicks while being balanced on one foot

– Angry jumping jacks

– Type away at an angry e-mail or blog post venting all of your negative emotions that you will delete

– Go for a brisk walk

– Get into a house-cleaning frenzy: vacuum, window-wash, dust, the whole nine yards. You’ll be less stressed and have a cleaner house! 

I would like to believe that there would be less angry drivers, disgruntled marriages, cranky storeclerks and general unhappiness if there were more venting chambers available in public spaces.

 

 

United States Has Higher Percentage of Forest Loss Than Brazil

We can’t allow the constant reminders of the damage we have done to our planet overshadow the fact that we still have the chance to prevent the past from repeating itself. With advancements in science and technology developing at an exponentially increasing speed, it should be obvious that we hold the knowledge and the tools needed to achieve a solution to our environmental crisis. So this week we, along with our partner Rainforest Alliance, don’t want to just focus on the forces threatening the rainforests and ecosystems. We also want to reveal the ways people have come together, using weapons of courage, education and technology, to fight for a better tomorrow.

Our first article highlights the reality of the deforestation that continues to devastate forests worldwide. This new study, released by The Proceeds of the National Academy of Science (PNAS), reports not only that "from 2000 to 2005 the world lost over a million square kilometers of forest", but the shocking truth that the "United States has a higher percentage of forest loss than Brazil". While large-scale logging industries are the biggest force threatening our nation’s forest loss, on the other side of the globe, a golf boom is endangering China’s Hainan rainforest. In what had "been a rare conservation success story", plans to turn this national park into an upscale tourist destination are presenting a "risk to biodiversity and water systems". And as Dr. Aaron Bernstein points out, preserving biodiversity is not only essential to our environment, but to our own health as well. Revealing how nature could hold the key to new medical breakthroughs and how habitat loss has been a factor in "leading to catastrophic pandemics", Bernstein makes it clear that "the loss of ecological biodiversity is a loss to ourselves".

Realizing the impacts of our actions, our next collection of stories focus on the environmental efforts being made to make a positive change. In Malaysia, Penan communities took action to stop deforestation by setting up two blockades, successfully causing "timber giant, Samling, to withdraw its bulldozers from the Penan’s rainforests". Although this is a key victory, a success story such as this is not the usual, as company giants are able to easily win a fight against local communities. Next, a collaborative agricultural project, Super Vegetable Gardens, is "tackling food security, poverty, and climate change" by providing sustainable farming in Senegal. In just one year, the organization "has seen 150 gardens sprout throughout the country". And lastly, Google is launching a new tool "Google Earth Engine". By combining the power of technology with environmental activism Google is hoping to help scientists monitor and understand our planet’s rainforests and ecosystems.

We can all make a difference by making our environmental impact a top concern. Only then will we see a dramatic change in both our daily actions as well as the research scientists’ focus on and the decisions leaders make for their country. So let’s seize the opportunity and make the decision to work towards a sustainable world. We invite you to visit our Facebook page to not only learn ways in which you can help the environment, but to also encourage others to do the same.

Courage Is Contagious. What we can gain from Natalia, Rebiya, Laura and Euna.

This week we lost another brave warrior, out there in the world fighting the good fight. Her name was Natalia Estemirova and before she was murdered she had been investigating human rights abuses by the government-backed militia in Chechnya. What is astonishing is that two of her colleagues were targeted and killed in the recent past. She must have known that her death was a very real possibility and yet she chose to keep investigating, documenting and exposing crimes against Chechnyans.

Also this past week we watched as the Chinese government cracked down against Uighurs in Urumqi, China (called East Turkestan by Uighurs). At least 184 people died and more than 1,400 Uighur men were arrested and have disappeared. 62 year-old grandmother and activist, Rebiya Kadeer, is being blamed for inciting the violence, though she has consistently supported a non-violent approach to change. Her only crime has been to publicly criticize the policies that deny her people basic human rights, and even after five years in prison and forced exile she continues to stand up and speak out.

Laura Ling and Euna Lee may have known that by going to China/North Korea and attempting to show the world the realities there, they were treading outside protective waters. They went anyway, committed as journalists to documenting the truth. For that they are in the fight of their lives, facing a twelve-year sentence to hard labor, with few diplomatic allies to protect them.

This week my mechanic ripped me off and I failed to speak up. Instead of raising hell or confronting him, I paid him and now plan to avoid him. It may seem a trite comparison, but the point is that we all face moments in our daily lives where we can choose to be brave or be quiet.

As someone who has spent time in Chinese detention and worked in war zones, I have had my fair share of moments to stand up for my beliefs. I am proud of how I acted, but usually there were guns involved.

It is when I am confronted with the small daily challenges that I often take the easy way out and avoid confrontation, like with my mechanic. Although I aspire to meet any obstacle, big or small, with courage, I can lose my nerve when it feels easier and more polite to stay silent.

Last year, my husband called me from Beijing, China the night before he climbed a 120 ft. pole near the Olympic Bird’s Nest Stadium and dropped a banner calling for Tibetan freedom. He was feeling really guilty about spoiling the party for all the citizens of China, saying, “I hate to be the one to piss in their Cheerios”. He managed to find the guts to go through with the protest by holding images in his mind of Tibetans who had been killed or disappeared in the crackdown leading up to the Olympics. He drew strength from their courage. 
   
For everyone out there who is afraid of confronting a co-worker, or calling someone out when they spew hatred, or even nervous to challenge their mechanic when they feel overcharged, lets all draw strength from Natalia, Rebiya, Laura and Euna. Hold images of them in your mind when standing up for your beliefs and you will not be alone.

They say courage is contagious, so lets pass it on. Do you have a story of a time when you were brave? Who inspires you to stand up?

Truthfully,
Kirsten Westby
Change-Maker/Rule-Breaker/Story-Teller

Featured in Ed and Deb Shapiro’s new book, BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You And The World, with forewords by HH Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman.

Please Sign the Petition asking for Amnesty for Laura Ling and Euna Lee

If China Had Drawn Some Stupid Cartoons Instead

Instead of China brutally cracking down on their Uighur ethnic Muslim minority in western Xinjiang province leading to the recent brutal deaths of nearly 200 people, perhaps if China were drawing sophomorically offensive cartoons (a la Danish newspapers circa December 2005); we would probably (and sadly) see more of a global outcry from the greater Muslim world on Beijing’s most recent human rights catastrophe and “worst civil turmoil since 1989”.

 Not since the now-infamous Tiananmen Square tragedy of 1989 has the world seen such civil turmoil inside China which revolves around the fulcrum of ethnic identity, societal discrimination and flat-out racism between the predominant ethnic majority Han Chinese (from the eastern parts of China) and minority ethnic Uighur Muslim populations indigenous to Xinjiang province along China’s western frontier.

 The majority of Uighurs live in Xinjiang, the massive western "autonomous region" that accounts for nearly one-sixth of China’s total land area. At its height in the 9th century, the Uighur empire stretched from the Caspian Sea into eastern China. The Uighurs also managed to establish independent republics twice during the 20th century before being annexed by the People’s Republic of China in 1949.

 Since then, the Chinese government has actively promoted the migration of the dominant Han Chinese to Xinjiang, and since the 1950s, the region’s ethnic Han community has grown from 5 to 40 percent of the region’s total population. Although recent years have seen enormous economic growth for the region, local Uighurs have become increasingly resentful of political and economic control coming from Beijing. For example, after an Uighur uprising in 1990, the Communist Party took steps to accelerate the integration of Xinjiang into China by stepping up migration and increasing the security presence of baton-wielding police forces and control over freedom of religion in the region as well.

 According to BBC World News, Chinese authorities say more than 140 people have been killed and hundreds more were wounded in riots in the mainly Muslim region since protests erupted last month. According to a recent article in Newsweek magazine, in June, a resentful laborer spread rumors that Uighurs had raped two Han Chinese women, leading a vengeful Han mob to attack Uighur workers. When authorities were slow to the arrest the attackers, Uighurs in Xinjiang took to the streets in protest.

 As recently noted by Moises Naim in Foreign Policy: “…In different countries, mullahs, imams, and assorted [Muslim] clerics have found the time to issue fatwas [religious decrees] condemning among other practices, Pokémon cartoons, total nudity during sex for married couples, and the use of vaccines against polio, not to mention Salman Rushdie. They have yet to find the time to say anything about China’s practices toward Uighurs…”

 Prominent Uighur Muslims like Rebiya Kadeer- once celebrated by the Chinese government as the richest woman in China- have been calling-out the Chinese government’s discrimination for years by saying that their policies are meant to “keep many Uighurs poor and badly educated.” However, outside of China’s borders and due to equally scant coverage within the international media, we have seen the greater Muslim world (and global media) largely silent on the human-rights abuses taking place today in western China.

 One reason for this large silence may be that most people have never heard of Uighurs before. Since they are not Arab, it is not surprising to see that their plight is not within the current zeitgeist radar of the greater Muslim and Arab world. Furthermore, an even more sobering thought occurs when one thinks that perhaps if the Uighurs were not Muslim, we may have even seen more coverage within the global media as well. It is pretty safe to assume that if the Uighurs were Christians, the American evangelical Republican apparatchik would be (rightfully) indignant towards China and their continued human-rights abuses against their Uighur sisters and brothers.

Either way, sadly, if the Chinese government had drawn some stupid moronic newspaper cartoons instead, we might have heard some more global condemnations (from all sides of the global political velvet rope) on these blatant human-rights violations occurring on our global watch today in China.

 Arsalan Iftikhar is an international human rights lawyer, contributor for True/Slant and founder of TheMuslimGuy.com

The Day After the 20th Anniversary of Tiananmen Square

Yesterday marked the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, which occurred exactly 20 years ago in China when student-led protesters were crushed by the military. According to eyewitness accounts, Tiananmen Square was quiet and uneventful all of yesterday–save for the noticeable presence of military guards and police officers patrolling the area, who outnumbered regular civilians by 2 to 1.

In contrast, 150,000 people gathered at Victoria Park in Hong Kong for a candlelight vigil. Citizens of all ages gathered together that night to commemorate the memories of the young students and citizens who shed their blood on that fateful day on June 4, 1989. A stone memorial in the center of the civil was marked with the words: "The martyrs of democracy live forever in the hearts of the people." 

Why is it so important for all of us–as global citizens–to remember what happened on June 4 in Tiananmen Square? Though I was too young to remember the event when it actually happened, the aftereffects of the event still reverberate in our present times. Books, movies and internet sites mentioning the Tiananmen Square Massacre–only referred to as "the June 4 incident"–are still banned in mainland China. Internet surveillance of Google searches, Facebook and Twitter increased in the days leading up to the anniversary. Political prisoners–many of them we don’t know about–are still carrying sentences for their connections to the events surrounding the crackdown.

Though the event occured two decades ago, its legacy still has the power to make government officials paranoid, uncomfortable and overly protective of their authority. The rest of us would laugh at their absurd behavior if the implications weren’t so terrifying. Why would they behave in this manner if they truly don’t have anything to hide?

This is the revenge of the ghosts of the Massacre. It reveals the innate buffoonery of censorship.

And this is the responsibilty for the rest of us, still breathing in the shadow of what occurred on June 4, 1989. We must continue to make the agents of oppression squirm. Reveal them, as much as we can, for the heartless fools such people are. The more they squirm, the stronger we all become in our human goodness. 

**

Here are several noteworthy organizations that are dedicated to human rights and universal freedom:

* Amnesty International

* Human Rights Watch

* Voice of Witness

 Whatever you are doing right now for worldwide peace, do more of it. I will also pledge to live my own advice.

 

Ai Weiwei, Artist & Lightning Rod

Ai Weiwei. Chinese digital dissident, is featured in the May/June issue of Utne Reader. His artwork and his story captivated me. The interview originally appeared in Index on Censorship and was conducted by Simon Kirby.
 
He participated in creating The Bird’s Nest Stadium we witnessed nightly during the Olympics in Beijing, and then he withdrew his support from the project. He’s outspoken about his government, and the government doesn’t silence him—or it hasn’t yet. In fact, by his own report, his greatest fear is silence.
 
In speaking about China, he says, “The basic value of contemporary thought has to be established in China. We need to create a sense of right and wrong, to learn to face ourselves and our history, to discuss what kind of nation and what kind of government we should create. These are essential questions and they need to be addressed. Without this, no solution can ever really reach the real root problem.”
 
I’d say the same is true all over the world, not just in China. It’s also true for every individual everywhere.
 
Ai goes on, “In fact, it is not only China that is facing these new kinds of difficulties—the whole world is facing them. But the difference here is that the old political structure remains fully intact.”
 
Sounds like the usual party-line bickering in the U. S. to me.
 
“I believe that the primary concern and main struggle within that structure is to stay in control and everything done within that structure is related to this mission.”
 
Dems? Reps? Control issues, anyone?
 
“The problem is that the whole society is dying through lack of responsibility or involvement.”
 
Yes, oh yes. The punditry has repeatedly remarked on President Obama’s stance of taking responsibility, and his continued urging of his vast constituency to get involved.
 
Ai calls it “active responsibility.”
 
If we continue to refuse to take responsibility for our own world, continue to assign that responsibility to government or politicians or officials of one stripe or another, it should not surprise us when Responsibility itself comes calling and insists we take her in.
 
 
 
The people who, I believe, have taken responsibility for millennia are always and forever the artists. They mirror our experience in a way that no other group even approaches. Ai is a blogger in China. There is no other way to put forward a dissenting opinion. All media are controlled by the state.
 
As an artist, he is able to see conditions in his own country so clearly that he diagnoses the problem and prescribes a cure for it in one sentence, “We need a very simple solution.”
 
Don’t we all? Artists in our world show us the problem and the solution every time they sing, dance, write, perform. They are the lightening rods of our time. Thematically, all over the world at this time, they point to the famed wasteland of Arthurian legend, and that fact that if we spot it, we got it. In the next leap, stroke, breath, we are enjoined to take responsibility for our own one small part of it. To bring greening, luxury, abundance and fertility back to our world one artistic outrage at a time.
 
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