The Sustaining Fires of Standing Rock: A Movement Grows

Over the past year, a remote area of North Dakota has been the improbable and prophetic site of a struggle with profound ramifications for us all. The confrontation has pitted the Water Protectors — the Standing Rock Sioux, other Native American tribes, and their allies — against the oil profiteers of Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners. The source of conflict is completion of the $3.8 billion, thousand-mile Dakota Access Pipeline — the Black Snake — that Energy Transfer Partners has built to carry fracked oil from North Dakota to Illinois.

The current planned route for the pipeline takes it beneath the Missouri River treacherously close to the Standing Rock and other Sioux reservations. A serious leak will threaten the water supply of these tribes and millions of people who live further downstream. Meanwhile, pipeline construction has already caused irreparable harm to Native American ancestral burial grounds and sacred sites. Continue reading “The Sustaining Fires of Standing Rock: A Movement Grows”

In Praise of Shared Outrage

“We have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieve greater prosperity and opportunity for all.” These were the words of Lord Brian Griffiths, Goldman Sachs international adviser, when he spoke at London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral last fall. With inequality at historic levels here in the United States and around the world, it’s a reassuring message we all might wish to be true.

Unfortunately, scientific research reveals a sharply different reality: inequality is a driving force behind many of our most profound social ills. The Equality Trust reviewed thousands of studies conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau, the World Health Organization, the United Nations, and the World Bank. Consistent patterns emerged, both between and within countries. Inequality is associated with diminished levels of physical and mental health, child well-being, educational achievement, social mobility, trust, and community life. And it is linked to increased levels of violence, drug use, imprisonment, obesity, and teenage births. In short, Lord Griffiths’ claim–despite the venue–was a self-serving fiction.

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Psychology for Progressive Purposes

For today’s engaged citizens, there’s no shortage of pressing concerns that demand attention: social and economic inequality, inadequate access to health care, persecution and violence on the basis of belief or group identity, assaults on civil rights and personal dignity, and profound environmental threats to the planet itself.

As president of Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR), I work with fellow members — psychologists and non-psychologists alike — in a shared venture to confront many of these challenges. A central premise of our efforts is that psychology — the science of human behavior — offers a strong base of knowledge and practice for developing and implementing policies that promote peace, social justice, human rights, and an ecologically sustainable future. We pursue these goals through research, education, intervention, and advocacy.

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