Journalist Gareth Johnson created a “LGBTI Guide to the World,” based on each country’s laws about homosexuality, marriage equality, and what’s it like to live or visit the country if you’re LGBTI.
Part of critical thinking in this era when the majority (62%) of adults get their news on social media (Facebook is the most popular) is digital literacy. We need to watch out for fake news and statements without evidence. A Stanford University study reported that “digital natives” are “easily duped” by misinformation. “Metaliteracy” refers to being aware of how our feelings influence how we process information. We are more likely to fact check when we don’t agree with a statement.
The Eagle Huntress (2016) documentary tells the story of a Kazakh girl named Aisholpan, age 13, who lives in Mongolia. Her parents support her goal to become the first female eagle hunter, although some of the older men say women should be home making tea because they get cold and they’re not strong enough to withstand hunting for foxes in the snowy mountains. Aisholpan is the oldest child whose father believes girls and boys are equal. Her mother said she wishes she had more time with her daughter but she wants her to be happy. They’re nomadic herders but carry a solar array for electricity, have a motorcycle and truck, and get news on their radio. The children go to boarding school five days a week. Aisholpan would like to be a physician but now her focus is on her eagle.
Your Questions About Work and Money
Ask Dr. Gayle
© Gayle Kimball, 2011
Table of Contents
Financial Aid for College Students
Getting a Job
Co-Workers and Bosses
Q: I’m going to college and need financial aid.
A: Maria Olson, Financial Aid advisor, provides this answer.
Every college has a Cost of Attendance (COA), so students should know to look up the COA for each school they are considering.
First Generation college students do need a lot of support and they should explore grant-funded programs like EOP, TRiO, ETS and Upward Bound. Slide 7 mentions this.
In California, students who have DACA, or are otherwise undocumented have the CADAA (CA Dream Act Application) available for them to apply for state financial aid. Students in these categories are not eligible for Federal Financial Aid, unfortunately, so they would not submit a FAFSA
There is also a separate application in CA for Foster Youth. They would fill this out in addition to the FAFSA or the CADAA.
Students who are eligible to fill out the FAFSA do not need to also apply for CA state aid. FAFSA sends their info to CSAC (the CA Student Aid Commission) for applying for state aid as well as federal. Other states may do this too, but I only know this is the case in CA.
Students can check the status of their Cal Grant awards, or eligibility, by creating their own student account through: https://mygrantinfo.csac.ca.gov
Also in California, high school students can take advantage of financial aid workshops put on in conjunction with their high schools, CSAC, and local colleges and universities. These workshops are called Cash for College and we just finished our last events for the season. We helps students and parents fill out the FAFSA and CADAA applications, and answer questions
Our website is also a wealth of information for explaining types of grants and for scholarship search tips:
http://www.csuchico.edu/fa/index.shtml. Students and parents should peruse the Financial Aid website of each school they are planning to apply to. This is a great way to do research to come up with informed questions prior to calling or making an appointment in person.
Q: I get confused about what decision to make, what action to take, so I’m kind
of stuck. How can I get clearer?
A: Draw paths going through a forest, with no worries about your artistic
abilities. Label the possible path. With colored pencils and without thinking,
color each path a different color. First instruct your drawing hand that gold or
yellow highlights the path that’s in your highest good, black or gray are paths
that are not good for you, red stands for vitality, pink stands for heart and good
feelings, green stands for a healing path, and blue for serenity. This way you’ll
tap into the wisdom of your inner wisdom. Keep your priorities in mind.
Q: I want to do the grad school thing, but am so wishy-washy about what
direction to follow. Teaching or something in the environmental field?
I also have been toying with the idea of a Holistic Health Practitioner program,
just afraid to commit to a change when I’m not sure where I’m headed. Arghh…
A: Make a list of what’s important to you in career, attaching descending points
to indicate priorities. The opportunity to grow? Do good? Make money, have
benefits and security? Location? A compatible workplace culture? Be
compatible with child raising? Then list pros and cons of each of your three
career options, attaching points. After you have a logical understanding of the
positives and negatives, ask yourself how you feel in your heart. It’s important
to take some action, such as taking a course in a field you’re considering, job
shadowing, and talking with career counselors. Life is short.
Q: I have all kinds of ideas for what I’d like to do but get stuck, like I’m spinning
my wheels. How can I get unstuck?
A: It’s like you’re on a high dive board and are thinking about so many
possibilities you can’t launch yourself. It doesn’t work to repress a strong
pattern, like over analyzing, so use it. Write a list of each of your possible
desires. List pros and cons for each. Sleep on it and see what feels like the right
thing to do. Take action, knowing that it doesn’t have to be perfect. What seems
like a difficult direction can be a necessary step towards something better.
Q: I’d like to move forward in my career, make some major changes, but I’m just
plain scared I’ll fail. What can I do?
A: Instead of leaping over a creek you want to cross, imagine sturdy flat
stepping-stones and stepping slowly from one to the other, stopping to look
around with an artist’s eyes. That is, take baby steps one at a time with a clear
picture of your goal. Think of fears of failure in your past, how you coped, and
what you learned from your mistakes. You survived. Acknowledge your fear, but
take small daily actions anyway, knowing that you will gain confidence as you
Q: I’m 29 and still working as a waitress in a boring job. How can I get
motivated to change?
A: Check out the certificate offerings at the local community college. Maybe
you’ll find a job skill that you wouldn’t have thought of on your own, like being a
welder or blueprint maker. I’d also make an appointment with the college
counselor to get ideas about how to get started in a training program.
Q: I’ve spent my life helping other people but I still haven’t graduated from
college or focused on my goals. How can I wean myself from this pattern?
A: Read about co-dependency and consider joining a support group. Think
about programming that you don’t deserve success, putdowns that come from
your family or significant others. Remind yourself that you’re a person who
deserves kindness and attention as much as any one else.
Q: I feel blocked, kind of hopeless, beaten and weepy about working on my
A: Schedule regular time each day to work on it. Get feedback and suggestions
from your professors. Think about the end results, your degree, presenting at a
scholarly conference, publishing the final product in a journal or online and
adding it to your job resume.
Q: I’m not sure what career I want, feel confused. What to do?
A: Make an appointment with a career counselor at the college near you. She or
he can give you personality inventories like the Myers Briggs and career
aptitude tests like the Strong Interest Inventory to give you more information.1
Ask about the emerging hot jobs and look on job search sites like
Monster.com.2 Be sure and job shadow people in different fields of interest so
you have a boots on the ground feel for a job.
Q: The last few years I’ve experienced dead ends and confusion about the right
steps to take. How do I get on the right track?
A: The issue is how to tell which is the voice of inner wisdom, or the inner critic
or inner child–a parental tape you copied unconsciously, or copying your close
associates, and so on. To get to know your wise self, practice on small
decisions, like which route to take when you drive, to see what the wise self
feels like. You can use John Bradshaw’s technique of dialoguing with an inner
personality by asking it to write a letter to you with your non-dominant hand. Ask
for guidance before you to sleep to get deeper information than the conscious
One way to focus is to visualize and to use affirmations. Here’s a
“balloon” visualization to achieve your goals. I did the balloon visualization with
a workshop for unexpected money and found $90 in a package of nylon
stockings I bought at a second-hand thrift store. Then, I was walking on a beach
in Tanzania and found new shilling bills washed up on the shore worth over
Balloon Visualization To Achieve Goals
1. Imagine a big balloon in front of you. Put the mental picture or words of what
you want in the balloon, such as finding a lost shirt. Write “shirt” in the balloon
with your imagination. Imagine your feelings and comments as you achieve the
goal. Put today’s date in the balloon, so you’re working in the present, not
projecting your goal into the future.
2. Put a cord on the balloon down into the earth. Set your intention to release
out of the balloon anything that gets in the way of your goal, including other
people’s expectations for you. Make the balloon bigger to create more space for
3. See the balloon filling up 100% with amusement, with smiles, tickles and
laughter, thinking about the times you’ve laughed so hard with your friends no
one could finish a sentence without cracking up again. Amusement and joy
energize. Fill it next with 100% enthusiasm. You might see it as colored liquid or
sparkles throughout the balloon.
Involve your senses. See your goal, hear yourself reacting to achieving it,
feel the delight in your body, smell it and taste it. You might want to write out a
short script, as for a film, describing the unfolding of the goal.
4. Imagine a fairy godmother or a genie flying up to your balloon and using her
wand to fill it with gold fairy dust or miracle dust. This is the fuel to get your
balloon up into the air to get your goal, like charging a battery.
5. Drop the cord off your balloon and turn it into a helium balloon. See it fly off to
achieve your goal. Forget about it for now; let it go.
6. Imagine a gauge like a thermometer in front of you, with numbers from 1 to
100. Ask yourself, “How OK is it with me to really achieve the goal? How much
permission do I give myself to have it?” Take the first number you see light up
on the gauge or that pops into your mind. If it’s not at 100, take out an
imaginary scrubber and clean resistance off the gauge so it can move up 10%
now. Move it up 10% each day until you reach 100. Do it gradually so you get
used to the idea of really achieving the goal.
Once you’ve practiced the goal visualization, you can simplify to speed it up.
Use it on small problems such as not being able to find your keys.
Q: [China] If I work very hard to do something, but I didn’t success, what should
A: Get help from someone who can help you figure out what’s causing the
problem. Let’s say you’re not doing well on math exams. Ask your teacher
about getting individual help from a tutor or an older student. Also, sometimes
we step on our own feet. Perhaps family members say, “Your older brother is
the good student, you’re the artist,” and you believe that you can’t do well in
math. Practice positive self-talk, telling yourself, “I do well on math because I
ask for help until I understand it.”
Think about what success is for you, as it may be different from what other
people want for you. To me, a successful adult has a job to support her or
himself and family, is happy and lives a healthy lifestyle, does service for
others, and continues to learn and grow in abilities—physical, mental,
emotional, and spiritual. Some people define success as having a lot of money
and fame, but there is no evidence that celebrities are happier. You hear about
them having drug and alcohol problems, divorces, and suicides. Princess Diana
married the future King of England, and was so unhappy she cut herself and
binged and purged as a bulimic before she matured. Think of the drug problems
of people like Britney Spears who had the court involved in the custody of her
Here’s what President Obama advised a Shanghai college student who
asked him in 2009 about how to be successful:
Whatever field you go into, if you’re constantly asking new questions–Are
there things that I could be doing differently? Are there new approaches
to problems that nobody has thought of before?–those are usually the
people who I think are able to rise about the rest. The people who I
admire the most and are most successful, they’re not just thinking only
about themselves but they’re also thinking about something larger than
themselves, so they want to make a contribution to society.
Q: I’m used to an accelerated approach to life, always having a new challenge. I
don’t know what to do next, now that I’ve established my job and learned about
how to be a husband to my new wife.
A: An important secret of getting answers is to clearly ask the question. Do this
before you go to sleep and ask for insights to bubble up to your conscious mind
by the time you wake up. You can also ask trusted advisors for their
perspectives. Listen to your inner guidance; this requires that you set aside
quiet time to listen, as in meditation or prayer or a walk in nature. Let go and
affirm you’ll get the right answer at the right time. Be OK now with relaxing and
developing your creativity. See what it’s like to Be rather than Do all the time.
It’s a good way to get to know yourself and to examine hurry sickness/addiction
to adrenaline rush and busyness.
Q: I finally have a good job making good money, so I don’t have to worry about
what happens if my car breaks down. I’m dealing with people all day, so when I
come home I don’t want to interact with people, just read a novel. Is my job my
A: Do you live to work or work to live? Life is too short for the former. Dr. T.
Barry Brazelton recommends not giving all your energy to work, holding back
some intensity for your home. Use the commute home to separate from work.
Listen to your favorite relaxing music. Plan something fun on the weekends.
Ask yourself, “Who am I when I’m not at work? How do I want to evolve and
Visualize having a chest or box for work. When you leave the office, shut
the lid on the box. Make sure your life box has enjoyable activities in it. You can
also use your hands. With first finger and thumb, close up the workspace. Open
your palm to receive life energy.
Q: I’m on a track team for my school. I’ve never won a meet although I’ve
beaten every one of the other guys in other events. How can I win?
A: Instead of thinking of winning as putting yourself above the others and being
conceited, think of it as fun and being an example to others of how to be
successful. You can complement the other runners on their performance. Also,
visualizations help focus your bodymind. Imagine a pulley connecting you to the
finish line, pulling you faster, effortlessly. Athletes like Tiger Woods spend a lot
of time mentally rehearsing their movements. Think about where you plateau in
terms of your fastest time, and then use energy psychology like EFT to break
through your performance ceiling.
Getting a Job
Q: I’m going to face a very important job interview soon, critical to my future.
A: Think of it like dancing. If you focus on how you’re doing, your performance,
you break the flow and feel awkward. Keep your attention on the other person,
maintain eye contact, and think about her or his needs. As a question is being
asked, ask yourself what does she or he really want to know and speak to that
intent. Have answers prepared in advance about your strengths and
weaknesses, what you have to offer the workplace, and any deficits in your
training and experience.
Turn any deficit into a positive, as by saying “It’s true I don’t have a lot of
experience, but I have a lot of energy to bring to the job and you’ll find me a
quick learner.” Make sure you do your homework about the prospective
employer, including the workplace culture. Research their values statement or
credo so you can include their buzzwords in your answers. Visualize yourself
feeling exhilarated at the end of the interview, proud of your performance.
Prepare by videotaping yourself in a mock interview to become aware of
distracting mannerisms and hand gestures and repeated filler words (“you
know,” “umm”) and slang. Get feedback from a career counselor if possible.
Women especially need to make declarative statements rather than the
questioning inflections used by subordinates. I’ve heard many young women
introduce themselves, “My name is Heather?” Also watch for head cocking
toward the shoulder, giggling, or a high voice tone that come across as girlish.
Practice lowering your voice to a deeper register.
A survey of college career counselors ranked these attributes as most
important to employers: being a team player, intelligence, professional
demeanor, organizational skills, friendliness, ability to take orders, and a sense
of humor. A survey of employers by the National Association of Colleges and
Employers ranked ability to communicate, work experience, and motivation as
the top three. Note: the average person changes jobs around 13 times.
*Job search sites: http://www.careerexperience.com (see advice section);
joboptions.com; Vault.com; wetfeet.com; Hoovers.com; ask.com;
Rileyguide.com; Cooljobs.com; Monster.com; Recruitersonline.com;
Resumeblaster.com; obstar.org; advice: careerjournal.com
Software: Resumemaker (Individual Software Inc.) includes posting your
resume on the Internet, job-search, and sample interview questions.
*Small business: National Association of Women Business Owners:
http://www.nawbo.org; http://www.onlinewbc.org (info for small business owners)
*Earnings: http://www.Paycheckcity.com; http://www.Money.com
*Distance learning: http://www.Distancelearn.about.com; http://www.CEOexpress.com;
*Career choices: Richard Bolles. What Color is Your Parachute? Current
Martha Finney & Deborah Dasch. Find Your Calling, Love Your Life.
Tom Peters’ Career Survival Guide. Houghton Mifflin Interactive software.
Marsha Sinetar. Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow.
How to Get a Job
1. Determine your goals and priorities. Do you want a job that pays top dollars,
brings you into contact with interesting people, provides training and
experience, allows you to travel, or is in a small/large town? Be specific.
2. Network with every resource possible: friends, family of friends, former
professors, neighbors, job placement center, career counselors, the newspaper
want ads, the Chamber of Commerce, government employment offices, office
bulletin boards, Internet, trade journals and homepages, telephone book yellow
pages, and private employment agencies. Look in reference books such as
Standard and Poor’s Register, available in the library. Research small but
rapidly growing companies, as discussed in INC. magazine’s yearly issue on
that topic. Talk to employers who interest you even if they don’t have a current
opening. Do your homework; research workplaces before submitting an
3. Create an outstanding resume. Take time to do this carefully as it gets you in
the door to a job interview where you can sell yourself in person. Include your
name, address, and phone number at the top. Use subheadings such as (a)
work experience and volunteer work (list in chronological order with the most
recent job first, and include your job title and duties), (b) education and other
skills that prepared you for the job, (c) a list of references (or state that they’re
available upon request so you can alert the people they may be called), (d)
personal (your interests, achievements, language skills, and hobbies).
Use bullet format rather than paragraphs. Use at least 12 point font.
Make sure you have an editor check for spelling and grammar errors. Use
action verbs rather than the passive voice. Leave adequate margins to make
the layout pleasing to the reader’s eye. Have it laser printed. Use heavy bond
white or cream-colored paper. See Greg Berryman’ and Susan Ireland’s The
Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Perfect Résumé, and http://www.JobStar.org.
Attach a brief cover letter summarizing how your skills match the job and
requesting an interview. Don’t repeat your resume; include the position you’re
applying for, what you know about the employer, and your key qualifications).
Direct it to the specific person who is in a position to hire you. Change your
resume to target different jobs you apply for.
Talk with employees to find out about the workplaces you’re considering,
and do library research if possible (College Placement Annual, Business
Periodicals Index, etc.). Read websites (including monster.com) and press
releases. Do informational interviews to find out about various careers: Call and
ask for 10 minutes to ask questions about that person’s job. They’ll usually be
Give the employer a reason to call you rather than hundreds of other
applicants, and don’t provide any reason to immediately toss your application
(as by not answering questions, messy writing, or no indication that you know
something about their workplace).
Use the Internet. See Mark Mehler and Gerry Crispins’ Careerxroads:
The Directory to the 500 Best Job, Resume and Career Management Sites on
the World Wide Web, or Pam Dixon’s Job Searching Online for Dummies. A
computer will scan resumes; print on white paper, using phrases from the job
description as the computer looks for key words. (See http://www.myjobsearch.com)
4. The key principle for an effective interview is preparation. Videotape practice
interviews so you can see what works and doesn’t work for you. First do them in
front of a mirror, then videotape a mock interview. Observe effective speakers.
You may be given a case study or be asked to perform a task such as a writing
sample. Some companies pre-screen over the phone or on video. Half of job
prospects are eliminated in the first phone call, so practice!
Have answers prepared for these common questions: tell me about
yourself, why should I hire you? What are your strengths/weaknesses? What
salary do you expect (reply it’s negotiable)? Why do you want this job? What
would your former employers say about you? What role do you take in a group
project? How would you fit in our workplace culture? What’s an example of a
good/bad decision you made recently? Answer a question directly and
concisely, not talking for more than two minutes at a time. Visualize yourself
doing great, take deep breaths from your belly, be aware of your posture, bring
water, and think of the interviewer in underwear so as not to be intimidated.
Focus on getting to know that person—rather than judging your own
performance. Always send a thank you note soon after the interview.
Q: I’m starting a new job. How can I succeed and be promoted?
A: Once you have the job, Odette Pollar (owner of Time Management Systems)
suggests: remove “it’s not my job” from your thinking, take responsibility, learn
new skills, be flexible, think ahead, keep your cool, have a sense of humor and
positive attitude, be assertive, and make your boss shine
(firstname.lastname@example.org). Also, sell yourself, study the work culture, form
information and support networks, cultivate mentors, practice effective
communication skills, don’t talk about your personal problems, be pleasant to
be around, and periodically check in with your boss for constructive criticism.
Keep written copies of important agreements, even with nice people. Don’t get
sucked into workaholism; make a list of “what I do” and “who I am” and make
sure they are different.
Lona O’Connor. Top Ten Dumb Career Mistakes…and How to Avoid
See the career chapter in my Everything You Need to Know to
Succeed After College.
Q: I need to make oral presentations to groups in my job as a salesperson, but
it petrifies me.
A: Many people name fear of public speaking as their number one fear. You
might want to check out the Toastmasters organization that meets regularly to
give people techniques and practice doing public speaking. My suggestions:
*Plan for time beforehand to check out the room and equipment.
*Know your audience. Do some research on them before hand or at least at the
beginning of the talk with show of hands in response to your questions about
them and their interests.
*Don’t apologize or comment on your fears, a common mistake.
*Take deep breaths from your diaphragm so you have oxygen in your forebrain
to think clearly.
*What is your goal? What information do you want to share with the audience?
Focus on that rather than your performance.
*Pick three to five main points and include evidence for each point. Use index
cards with important information: DO NOT READ WORD BY WORD, very sleep
inducing as in bedtime stories. Number your cards in case you drop them.
*Keep it simple and conversational. Humor and stories are great, which is why
the Bible was written in many parables such as the Prodigal Son.
*Eye contact is important, around the room. Don’t overuse PowerPoint because
the focus is on the screen, not people.
*Vary vocal pattern—no monotone. Pause for transitions between ideas.
*Only 7% of a message is communicated by words, 38% verbally, and 55% by
body language. Be aware of your posture and movements. Avoid: rocking,
fiddling, folding arms across the chest, standing with one hip higher, jingling
coins, jangling jewelry, and repeated use of the same gesture or phrase.
*Video yourself in a practice session keeping these pointers in mind: This is
very useful for anyone who teaches and gives group presentations.
*Visual aids: No more than 6 lines of copy with 6 words per line. Use a simple
sans serif font such as Arial or Helvetica. For titles use around 40 point, and 24
point for details. Use bullets rather than complete sentences. Create original
graphics with a digital camera.
*Put your watch where they can’t see you checking it.
*Don’t expect people to listen attentively for more than 20 minutes. Use variety
and include time for interesting dialogue and questions.
Q: I am having a hard time hanging on to any idea that there’s some grand
plan, or things work out for the best. Right now it seems like sometimes sucky
things happen and all you can do is make the best of it. I had this strong gut
feeling that we were meant to go to another state for a job my husband applied
for. I actually felt sure he’d get the job. I’d go on an energy level and ask and
see and it just felt so right compared to staying, but he didn’t get it. I think I lost
some faith in my perceptive ability–all clouded, wishful thinking, no real
A: Difficulties can be a kick in a new direction to get us to change our
comfortable habits. In the long run, the purpose will be clear—a lesson in
patience. The job felt right to me, too, but there’s a better one coming up. It’s
true there are human miseries of abuse, starvation, and war that are very
difficult to understand, other than we have free will and are not highly evolved.
Note: he later did get a job in another state.
Q: I feel stuck and unmotivated to move forward in my life. How can I get
A: Instead of trying to formulate a grand plan, create a small step forward every
day where you are kind to someone, you learn something new, or you engage
in healthy fun. Work with a career counselor to explore options.
Q: I’m looking for a job in a tight job market. I don’t feel like I have a clear
direction of where I’m going, or where I want to live.
A: Life is about ebb and flow like ocean waves, chaos and integration. Accept
the fact that you’re in a chaos period and know that your path will open up to
you. Set aside one hour a day to job search with no attachment to results, just
making the effort in a newspaper, Craig’s List and other Internet job searches,
networking with friends and acquaintances, and calling employers in the field of
your dream job. List the components of an ideal job for you, so you have
template in mind as you apply for jobs. It’s helpful that you’re willing to move to
where jobs are available.
Apply for as many as interest you, so you have options open to you. You
don’t have to decide now or get the perfect job. We can get stuck in
perfectionism, which immobilizes our ability to act. Guidebooks like What Color
is Your Parachute by Richard Nelson Bolles are helpful too. Check in with your
former university career placement office and take tests to help you define your
interests, like the Strong Campbell and the Myers Briggs.
Q: My family didn’t go to college and didn’t expect me to graduate either, so I’m
lagging on transferring from community college to a university.
A: Apply for universities and make an appointment with the financial aid advisor.
In your journal, write, “I am an educated man. I am capable and use my
success for good.” Then listen to the negative voices of sub-personalities and
write down what they say, like, “You’d be stuck up and arrogant if you become
one of the college grads.” Think about whose voice that might echo in your
extended family, when you first heard it, or got the message, and continue to
dialogue with that voice. Then, cross it out, and put today’s date by it. Also, list
ways you’re different from your family so your unconscious mind can separate
from their patterns. You might find they’ll brag in the future about their college
Q: I’ve procrastinated finishing two incomplete courses I need to graduate. I just
can’t seem to motivate myself. Any suggestions?
A: Ask yourself what’s the “secondary gain” from putting off the completion. It
could be by delaying graduation, you give yourself an excuse not to do a job
search and become an adult. It feels like you associate growing up with lack of
fun. Create your own definition of the kind of adult you’d like to be. Think about
exemplary role models you know or who are featured in the media and match
that way of being. To finish your projects, set aside a time every day to do the
work. During this time, do not answer your phone or do chores. The mind often
comes up with excuses to put off work, like that drawer really must be cleaned
out, but follow the plan instead of the immediate task. Reward yourself with a
break after every hour of focused accomplishment. The secret is to break the
task into small parts and create a sense of accomplishment daily; this provides
energy whereas putting off a task drains energy.
Q: I graduated from university a few years ago but have been holding back from
moving forward to graduate school and a career.
A: It looks like you’re carrying the weight of family expectations that you’re the
achiever of your siblings, the one who doesn’t mess up. The fact is we’re on the
planet to make mistakes so we can learn and grow. The point is not to repeat
mistakes, rather than to be perfect. None of us are! Americans change jobs
around seven times during their work lives so you’re not committing yourself to
a lifelong sentence with your first professional job. Start with what you love to
do rather than what would make the most money. A happy husband and dad
are more desirable than a rich unhappy grumpy man. Consult with the career
planning and placement center at the local college about career options and
aptitude and personality tests to help you make an informed decision. Job
searches are mainly done on the Internet: For many links see
http://www.directsearch.net. Search for a job on web sites like Career Builder,
Monster, Craig’s List, and Simply Hired.
Q: [China] I always want to find my answer by myself and now I don’t know
what is right. What if I am wrong again? What if I try another job and it’s again
not right for me and I waste my time again? My inner child’s nerves never have
a rest, always devoured by the fear. I am ashamed to say but inside I am
actually still a child who doesn’t know how to take the next step.
A: Think about life as learning lessons, so we evolve like all of nature. You’ve
learned something from each of your jobs and struggles, so they’re not a waste
of time. You’re getting clearer on what you want in a career. Throughout life we
continue to be imperfect, to make mistakes. The point is to learn from them, not
to get it right the first time or be perfect—impossibility.
The other point is to learn how to determine which is your highest inner
guidance, and which is a lower sub-personality in the unconscious lacking in
wisdom. Ask for clarity on your next career move before you sleep and take
quiet time to be able to hear your inner guidance. If you listen, you’ll know when
a job is right for you, although probably not forever.
It’s good that you realize the power of your inner child. With our core
issues it takes a lifetime of peeling the onion skins, so don’t expect that just
because you see the pattern it’s resolved. We all keep our inner child subpersonality
all our life. Read John Bradshaw about how to work with the child to
make it feel nurtured. The child can be a source of fun and creativity.
Co-Workers and Bosses
Q: I’d like to be able to gear my message for the learning style of the person I’m
approaching as a sales person. Ideas?
A: Neuro Linguistic Programming tells you how to identify whether your listener
is primarily visual, auditory, kinesthetic or auditory digital (mental dialogue with
self). The User’s Manual for the Brain by Bob Bodenhamer and Michael Hall
explains the differences and also provides a short test to indicate your dominant
modalities. Many other NLP books are available.
Q: A business associate is trying to make an end run around me, a power grab.
How can I block her?
A: Remind her in writing about rules and procedures and the chain of
command. Avoid any personal attack; keep it impersonal except to give
appreciation for effective ways you may have worked together in the past or
what you’re looking forward to in your working relationship. What consequences
are there if she continues to ignore the rules?
Q: I work with John every day in my office and he is a sensitive, high-strung
individual. I asked him to call you because I think he needs help sustaining a
grounded stable demeanor. It’s been a challenge to work with him but I have
used your tools and have taught some of my Leadership Team how to do the
same so that they don’t get sucked into the negative style of his messages.
What else can I do?
A: It’s helpful to ground yourself, and the physical office space, as well as Peter.
Does he eat frequent healthy foods so he doesn’t wig out with low blood sugar?
Is his office in a quiet place? It might help for him to listen to soothing music on
headphones. Praise him when he’s positive.
Q: I started a small business, brought in a partner and now I feel like she’s
taken over and I’m being drained. I also have unmet needs with my romantic
partner. How can I get my power back?
A: Decide what area of the business you’d like to take control of and why. She’s
not the boss. I’d consider developing a new aspect of your business and take
sole charge of it. To resolve a conflict, we have to put it on the table and learn
about each person’s point of view. Without criticizing either partner, let them
know how you’re feeling, what you’d like to change, and clarify what the other
person needs, as explained in Marshall Rosenberg’s Non-Violent
Communication (www.cnvc.org/learn/resources). Speak up and take back some
ownership and you have more joie d’vivre.
Q: There’s a younger woman at my workplace who wraps the boss around her
finger, so she gets more paid hours for doing less work than the rest of us. She
spends lots of time at work on her personal Internet activities. I’m resentful and it
affects my health.
A: Voice Dialogue teaches that for every strong primary subpersonality there’s a
“disowned self.” If we’re not aware of the shadow selves, they manifest in others
such as co-workers, our kids and pets, in people who evoke strong judgments
and a charge from us. Since you have such a strong work ethic, the goof-off
colleague gives you an opportunity to explore your opposite polarity. This
understanding gives more freedom. I’d visualize a spotlight of truth over the goofoff’s
desk so the boss clearly sees her work habits. If you leave work pissed off,
don’t stuff it, as that’s not good for your immune system. Yell, cuss, growl, spit or
what ever releases your frustration if you’re alone on your commute home. You’ll
probably make yourself laugh in the process and enhance your immune system.
I’d look for another job if possible. Document your productivity and contributions
to the workplace to ask for a raise.
Q: I work with a woman who is considered the star and, while discussing a
project, we had a disagreement. I am at a point where I doubt myself, thinking
that I cannot work collaboratively. She gloats about herself and her skills so
much that I feel incompetent.
A: If she needs to gloat, she must be very insecure. Find out about her
childhood issues so you can put her neediness in perspective. She’s a good
saleswoman of herself; observe how she convinces people she’s so competent.
Also, the gloating must be obvious to others and not appealing to them. Are you
imagining more star power than she actually has at work? Did you have siblings
who you thought got more parental attention and did they compare your
achievements at school and socially? This can be an opportunity to clean out
unresolved childhood wounds she’s stimulating about not being the favorite
Q: I’m from India, not a gushy person, so I don’t know what to do when
Americans greet me with exaggerated enthusiasm that feels phony to me. Do I
have to gush back?
A: You don’t have to reply in kind. Just turn the spotlight back on the other
person by asking a question like, “What’s new with you?”
Q: I don’t want to go to work, can’t wait for the weekend. I feel overwhelmed by
all the projects I’m responsible for and feel irritated and resentful. Any hope for
A: When you get to work prioritize what’s most important. Put one task folder on
your desk. Put the others in a drawer out of sight, the most important files
upfront. Acknowledge what ever you’re feeling such as, “I’m feeling
overwhelmed,” and then ask yourself, “What shall I accomplish in the next two
hours?” Keep naming your feelings and then focus back on the immediate task.
When you’re interacting with toxic and draining co-workers, do active
listening to verbalize their feelings and needs, and then ask for possible
solutions. Write them down, and end the discussion by saying, “Thanks for
letting me know what’s going on: Now I need to get ready for another meeting.”
Make sure you nurture a life outside of work by planning for weekly fun
activities, such as taking an art or dance class. Keep a gratitude journal so you
remind yourself you’re fortunate to have a job and have the opportunity to learn
new skills. If you continue to hate it, look for another job.
Q: I’m having a kind of midlife crisis where I don’t feel appreciated at work or by
my children. How can I feel better about myself?
A: Don’t expect appreciation from others, but know your kids will be
appreciative as they mataure. Look for a new challenge at work, take a class, or
learn a new skill. Is it time to prepare for a new job? Think of this as your time to
spread your wings and fly now that your kids are older and find gratification in
Q: I’m worried about losing my job in this recession. What can I do?
A: Yes, we’re in a major recession, which is painful for the unemployed, but
good for the environment as people consume less. You might be able to get
retraining: check out the county employment services like
http://www.buttecounty.net/dess/One_Stop_Partners.html. You might want to start a
business on the side. For free help, contact SCORE http://www.score.org.
In the long run, the American model of consumption and shopping (as
President Bush advised we do after 9-11) is bankrupt in all senses of the word.
Americans are 5 percent of the global population but consume about onequarter
of the energy and do one-third of global consumption. As developing
countries like China and India follow our model, we’ll run out of oil and metals.
Water is also scarce in some areas of the world, including the Southwest and
some areas on the East Coast. We need to simplify, save, and slow down to
savor life (see Carl Honoré’s In Praise of Slowness) in a new model of harmony
with mother earth. If we work fewer hours, we can spend more time with family
and friends, gardening, doing service, and other meaningful and enjoyable
Q: [Japan] I have trouble separating from my chiropractic clients; I get too
involved with my patients. How can I maintain both compassion and distance?
A: Think of each person leaving your office with a strong grounding pipe, like a
taproot that provides stability and nurturance for a tree into the earth. Imagine
releasing anyone else’s energy down your own grounding pipe into the earth to
recycle. Know that each adult makes her or his own choices; their problems are
not yours. Do a simple physical act of separation after each session: snap your
fingers, exhale through the mouth, and deliberately release the patient to the
Higher Source as you wash your hands with rose water.
Q: I’m bored with my work as a therapist and irritated by co-workers, but I need
to stay on because of the good salary and benefits.
A: Get trainings in new approaches to doing your work. Anyone gets bored
doing the same old thing, so it’s up to you to learn and apply new approaches.
You could also try to learn something new about a co-worker each day. Take a
quick walk between clients to reset your own energy.
Q: I’m a guy who works in an all-male environment where I often feel
uncomfortable and intimidated by the jokes and bullying, so I dread going to
A: Through many sessions with coaching clients, I’ve discovered we display
invisible unconscious signs that instruct people how to relate to us. If the sign
says “I’m a victim: I expect to be abused,” then abusers step forward. Change
your sign to “I’m an alpha male: Treat me with respect.” Human behavior in
groups is similar to monkeys with alpha, beta and omega individuals in a
hierarchy. If you send the messages of a subordinate male, you’ll get treated
that way. My son, Jed, commented that “shit talking” occurs in male groups as
part of male bonding. He suggests not to take it personally, and be assertive.
Sometimes we need a counselor to help us practice behavior changes like
standing up for ourselves.
Q: [Japan] I went to my boyfriend’s medical office to join their year-ending party.
There are four young assistants and two of them were very strong energysucking
behavior. They really liked me and wanted to talk to me a lot. At last,
they got drunk and the two girls started to fight each other. They argued each
other like “You want to make yourself a good girl, to get Dr. and his girlfriend’s
This fighting become very violent. They grab and hit each other. They
screamed at each other like brutal or Mafia. I tried to stop them and my right
shoulder and arm hurt. After I stopped the fighting, they cried. I hugged them.
That was the most violence moment I have ever seen. I was very shocked.
Today, one of them doesn’t remember about that day, and the other really
thought that she was a 100% victim of the violence. She said that she doesn’t
want to change her way no matter what.
A: First, try to be amused at their childlike behavior, rather that being reactive or
upset. Second, ask why you attracted such intensity–you were literally in the
middle of it. Ask if there are any “shadow issues” in terms of jealousy,
competitiveness, irrational behavior in your psyche? Practically, no more
alcohol at office parties? Always go back to energy tool basics, define your
energy bubble, ground, and bring in a gold sun.
Q: When my friends or co-workers freak out they come to me. It feels like they
suck my energy and I’m always in crisis mode.
A: Use the magic word and say “NO” when you’re overloaded. You can say, “I
don’t have time now to give you the focus I’d like to offer. Can we talk on Friday
at noon?” Look at your own co-dependent tendencies of wanting to feel needed
to be validated as a good person.
Q: I work with a guy who is usually a sweetheart and very competent, but he
has times when he gets irrational and criticizes me for no good reason. Any
A: He is not just the person you see on the surface. He also has a child subpersonality
to which he reverts when threatened, a shadow side, a critic, a
judge, and so on. When your co-worker reverts to acting like a little boy, don’t
match his attitude with your defensive child. Do active listening from a centered
state so he can rise up to your adult centered self. Ask him to frame his
criticisms in terms of positive suggestions that you’ll consider thoughtfully.
Q: [Japan] I have a supportive husband and sister but my parents told me I was
worthless; I’ve carried this over to work where I don’t have friends.
A: To get out of your turtle shell, take a drama class as it seems like one of your
sub-personalities would like this very much. Change your victim archetype (see
Caroline Myss’ book The Sacred Contract) by developing your actor archetype.
Imagine a character who is well-liked, act as if you are interested in getting to
know your colleagues and imagine being confidant about what you can
contribute to work friendships as a unique individual. Energetically, it helps to
“zip up” your energy field before going into work by drawing a line with your
hand from your pubic bone to your chin to stabilize your central meridian.
Imagine a pink bubble of light around you, radiating friendliness and fun.
Q: I get a nervous stomach every time I’m assigned a leadership role at work.
How can I get over this discomfort?
A: Exaggerate your worries to their extreme: Imagine the worst that could
happen. Then imagine the satisfying outcome you want. Take the positive
image and imagine throwing it at the fearful one until it disappears. Try drinking
peppermint or ginger tea and visualize breathing green into your physical area
of discomfort. Deep slow breathing always helps, prolonging the exhalation to
relax the parasympathetic nervous system. Focus on what you want to
accomplish, not on how you’re being evaluated.
Q: My fellow worker is so irritating; he interrupts me and follows me around
talking to me. He’s driving me nuts—anything I can do?
A: Do what you would do with a child. First, give him five minutes or so of
undivided attention to check in on how he’s doing today, to help him feel he’s
making contact. Then set limits and stick to them, as in “I need quiet time for the
next hour to finish my project.” If he interrupts, smile and point to your work,
and keep silent and keep your eyes on your work. It’s very important to stick to
your original instruction of an hour of time. To use the power of your mind,
imagine an energy bubble around you with no trespassing signs. Imagine a
magnet pulling him back to his own work. If nothing else works, go to the
Q: I dislike going to work because of an ongoing conflict with a colleague. How
can I resolve this?
A: Conflict can be healthy if it brings up different points of view to be negotiated
to achieve a fair compromise and increased trust. Try a private meeting where
you following these steps:
1) Focus on issues and goals, not personalities and positions. Identify what
each of you thinks and wants. Do respectful “active listening” where you let the
other person know you understand what she or he is thinking, even if you totally
disagree. St. Francis said to seek first to understand, then to be understood.
Keep in mind that the roots of irritation may be personal similarities that you
don’t like, or the other person reminds you of a difficult person from your past.
Avoid blaming, name-calling, sarcasm, “you always….,” “gotcha,” and bringing
up other issues that bother you. Stick to one problem at a time.
2) Brainstorm solutions without making judgments, focusing on mutual needs
rather than established positions.
3) Search for a win-win compromise. If you can’t find one, bring in a mediator or
agree to disagree and maintain courteous but distant adult interaction.
Q: My dictatorial boss creeps me out; I don’t like to even be near him.
A: Look at him as a movie screen reflecting some of your childhood wounds
about feared authority figures, allowing you to project and make conscious old
fears. Try to appreciate him as a helpful teacher. Pay attention to your visceral
body reactions when you’re around him and set your intention to release your
fears; remind yourself that as an adult, you’re safe. You can create an
imaginary image for him such as toddler who wants his way no matter what,
while you’re the understanding and firm adult. Can you transfer to another
department or look for a new job? Keep in mind that where ever you go you’ll
find difficult people.
Q: I’m a guy who tries to be humble and kind, but my boss tends to walk all over
me. What can I do?
A: Sometimes men hold back with their male power because they don’t want to
be chauvinist pigs. But, male power used for good, for leadership, for justice
and protection of the underdog is very much needed. Stand up to him in a polite
way, telling him what you want in a simple, clear, and calm manner. You will
need to repeat it, so he knows you mean business. As with a child who
tantrums for junk food in the supermarket, stick to your rules, don’t give in to
Q: My boss has moods where she’ll come over and tell me to do something
differently even though the outcome is the same my way or her way. It’s
stressful. What can I do?
A: Think deeper to what she needs, as explained in Non-Violent
Communication developed by Marshall Rosenberg. It feels to me like she
sometimes she needs to prove to herself and you that she’s the knowledgeable
one in charge. Be proactive, and ask her for information about something you’d
like to learn about in the business, so she feels like you value her. Think of work
as a tennis game where you control the shots by anticipating what your
opponent is going to do. Enjoy learning what techniques work and don’t work.
Q: I’m worried about my work situation. It feels like my boss is out to get me, so
I’m anxious a lot. Is there anything I can do to cope with my boss?
A: What I see with you is a runner who arrives at the finish line tape first, but
stops uncertain about what to do, not breaking through. It looks like you learned
from your family it’s not OK to be out in front; this sets up a habit of selfsabotage
on your part so you don’t break the unspoken family expectations. If
you’re afraid of succeeding, you send out signals that get in the way of your
work performance. Just becoming more conscious of your pattern can help, but
you probably need to work with a professional with a body-based therapy (such
as EFT, EMDR, or Psych-K) to clear out the energetic blocks around success.
In terms of your boss, ask for a meeting to evaluate your work, saying
something like “It’s important to me to do a good job for you. I’d like your
feedback on my strengths and weaknesses.” Mostly listen without being
defensive, unless there is a misunderstanding that needs to be cleared up. I’d
also let your boss know common goals you share for the workplace and what
you like about his or her leadership style or achievement. Take notes, prepare a
summary of your notes to give to your boss to check for accuracy, keep the
correspondence, and then check in a few months for a progress report. People,
including your boss, tend to like those who are sincerely complementary and
whom they know can listen to and act on their suggestions. You’ll also have a
written record of her or his expectations.
Q: It feels like I hit a WALL when I start to succeed at something.
A: Visualize the wall as only about 10 feet long, walk around it, down a path in a
beautiful meadow. Turn to look back at the edge of the meadow and see how
small the wall has become. What factors were involved in times when you’ve
Q: The managers at my workplace sit in their air-conditioned offices, make
unrealistic contracts, and expect us blue-collar workers to give up our personal
lives and health to work overtime to try to meet their impossible deadlines.
A: You can’t expect to do the impossible, so don’t buy into manager anxiety. All
you can do is your best work and separate yourself from work stress by thinking
about joyous places to be, happy memories, or pleasant fantasies while you’re
working. You could write a nasty letter to the managers and tear it up and burn
it to get it out of your system. Exercise releases hostile feelings: Take a walk
when you get home to separate from work, even though you’re really tired.
Q: My boss is out to get me because of my union organizing. How do I protect
A: Don’t expect rational behavior just because someone is an educated adult.
Access her emotional age and relate to her on that level. You’ll save yourself a
lot of irritation and disappointment. Also, watch out for childhood reactions to
authority figure which you may be projecting on your boss and use this as an
opportunity to clear the pattern. It feels like some issues with your mother are
Don’t think you can ignore the problem and it will go away. My
experience with bully bosses it they keep on testing their limits until they
understand there will be unpleasant consequences for punishing you. One boss
told me, “Your Ph.D. is in Religious Studies: You better start praying.” I replied,
“She’s listening.” I told him clearly and calmly why I wasn’t going to do what he
proposed, and he backed off.
Don’t take unilateral action: A soldier who runs to the front line without a
strategy and support team will get shot down. In your case, the union is your
team. Outline the specifics of corrective actions to be negotiated. Everyone is
busy, so do the research and thinking for people who have the power to assist
you. Keep your ears open for others who may be experiencing the same
problems, as group action is much more powerful
than one person’s grievance. To recruit more union members offer food to
motivate people to come to organizing meetings and keep educating them with
brief email newsletters.
Do document each act of harassment that creates a “hostile” work
environment, to use the legal term (Tile VII of the Civil Rights Act was extended
to include men as well as women, with the case of a Louisiana oil worker).
Include details time, place, and circumstance of the illegal behavior. Be familiar
with your workplace human resource regulations. Put the remedy you seek in
writing to your supervisor, starting with a point of agreement, such as “We both
want a productive workplace.” If necessary, file a grievance. It’s illegal to harass
someone because they have taken legal action or are a whistle blower.
Q: I’ve worked successfully as a nurse for many years, until I moved to a unit
staffed by a verbally abusive, sexually suggestive, and neglectful doctor. When
I blew the whistle, the managers started writing me up for errors I didn’t make or
are things we all do in a busy unit. They terminated me recently by fax without a
meeting. I’ve been reading the Law of Attraction and The Secret. Did I do
something wrong to attract being fired?
A: A more in-depth explanation is The Intention Experiment or The Field by
Lynne McTaggart. We’ve known for a long time that, “As a man thinketh in his
heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). What the pop authors leave out is that we
attract challenges to become stronger and evolve—the reason we’re alive.
Someone who lives a life without challenges may lack opportunities to grow.
You were right to follow your conscience and speak up about improper care.
The union should fight hard for you; be a squeaky wheel. Don’t try to fight the
battle on your own because being right is not enough to win against injustice. If
necessary, consult a labor lawyer or the Equal Employment Opportunity
Commission about wrongful termination for whistle blowing.
Q: I’ve been wrongly accused of sexual harassment at my workplace. I’m a
A: Get help from your union or a lawyer and read your employer’s manual of
procedures so you know your rights. Ask to see the charges and evidence in
writing. Even though this is a very disturbing charge, stick to the facts and not
your feelings in your interactions with people at work. Also think about any way
you might have unintentionally crossed some boundaries, as we often attract
situations that mirror the shadow part of our mind that needs to be brought to
light of consciousness and worked out. Get help from a union, legal aid
organization, or EEOC.
Q: I’m overwhelmed by clutter in my home and office. How to win?
A: As with any big task, break it down into small bits, and do a little each day
such as sorting a pile of old mail today and dirty clothes tomorrow. As you sort,
put objects into bins labeled “give away,” “file,” or “put in ___ room.” File folders
and file cabinets really help with paper items like financial records. Use
Behavior Modification techniques and give yourself a reward after each hour
spent organizing. Use Emotional Freedom Technique and tap on the feeling of
overwhelm and hopelessness.3
Time Management for More Mental Energy
*Break difficult and lengthy tasks into smaller ones and do a little every day to
prevent procrastination, our main energy drain. For example, when I grade
student papers, I correct five, then take a break to wash the dishes or make a
call, and then complete five more. This way I am not overwhelmed and I feel a
sense of accomplishment many times while working.
*Do short tasks immediately, such as paying bills. Do not put them in a pile
where they must be remembered and dealt with later. Mark on the envelopes
when to mail them if cash is not yet available.
*Make lists of what needs to be done, and prioritize for each day and week. Do
not do the low items on the list before the higher items are completed. Think
about what you can delegate, whom you can hire or trade with, who you can
ask for help, and to whom you should say “no.”
*Give yourself rewards for completing a major task. Crossing a task off your list
is a small reward in itself and can be energizing.
*Do two things at once, like cleaning the bathroom and giving a child a bath or
doing a load of laundry while cooking dinner. Multitasking can get excessive,
*Make your work and home environment pleasing to you. Play music (use
headphones if you work around others); drink your favorite healthy beverage,
e.g., herb tea; and display fragrant flowers, photographs and art. Keep toys
around (kaleidoscope, bubble blower, crayons, silly putty) to remind you to have
*Keep your mind and spirit energized by taking enjoyable breaks. Reward
periods of concentration with regular short breaks to breathe deeply, your palm
over closed eyes while imagining black velvet, take a short walk, stretch,
daydream, meditate, or put your feet up. If you find yourself reading and going
blank, keep your body involved by having a pen in your hand, underlining or
*Give yourself some time alone, taking a bubble bath with relaxing music and
candles instead of a quick shower.
*Plan leisure activities to look forward to, with a supportive group of friends and
*Studies show healthy people have a support group. Men are less likely to
have friends to share feelings with, so many communities have weekly men’s
groups to provide this contact.
Q: I’m stretched thin at work so I come home feeling exhausted. Is there any
way not to be so tired?
A: In How to Get Control of Your Time and Your Life, Alan Lakein suggests
dividing your “to do” list into A, B, C priority categories. Do the As when you
have the most energy during your day, as Lakein says 20% of our work
achieves 80% of the results, so decide how you’re going to use your time.
Think of yourself as an experienced firefighter dealing with many small
brush fires. When a new fire breaks out, pause, take a deep breath, and plan.
Can you handle it later or delegate it to someone else? Imagine a perfectionist
thermostat, ask how perfectly the task needs to be done, and turn down your
Type A hurry sickness thermostat to Type B more relaxed and calm approach.
Think of moving from the whirling outer edges of the hurricane to the still center.
If you keep your adrenal reaction turned down, you’ll have more energy at the
end of the day, as well as a healthier immune system.
Q: I feel under water, swamped. I’m facing an IRS audit, a biopsy, a grinding
workload, and I’m still grieving the end of a relationship. What can I do to feel
A: When you feel like you’re being pulled under, visualize a wave pushing you
up on the shore free of the undertow. Take time to nurture yourself each day to
take a break from work pressure and do something enjoyable. Prioritize and
plan. Tell yourself, “This too Shall Pass.”
Q: I recently started my own business and would like to succeed. Suggestions?
A: I posed this question to a gathering of around 40 small business owners.
They emphasized the importance of setting clear intentions for what you want to
achieve, be positive but address your doubts and fears, express gratitude, stay
focused in the present, enjoy what you do and be excited about learning new
job skills. A related theme was to listen, to get your ego out of the way so you
can hear your higher self–“give it up,” and to aim for simplicity.
In addition to attitude, another cluster of advice was to nurture yourself:
Mediate daily, breathe deeply, spend time in nature, play and have fun. Another
theme was to focus on making your clients feel satisfied, respect each one as a
unique individual, and to meet and greet new people (potentially new clients) as
you go about your day. Lastly, a publisher quoted an old adage about pray but
tie up the camel; that is, pay attention to details to manifest your goals here and
When you feel anxious: Breath from your diaphragm, imagining inhaling a
calming color like green or blue. Do the HearthMath Freeze Framer, pausing
your anxiety as you would a video (check out their website and books).4
Imagine breathing into your heart. Think about a happy time when you felt
appreciated. Last, ask your heart what you should do to cope.
For free business information on technical skills such as bookkeeping,
accounting, and taxes, consult the Small Business Development Center, the
Chamber of Commerce, or SCORE retired business executives for help with
your business plan.
Q: I procrastinate big time about cleaning up my messy office. Suggestions?
A: Ask your rebellious inner child sub-personality why it doesn’t want to clean
up. Then let her or him write the answer with your non-dominant hand. You may
want to hire someone or trade with a friend to get you over the hump. Set aside
half an hour a day to make some progress and give yourself a healthy reward to
provide positive reinforcement.
Q: So many things I want to do: practice my instrument, read your Energy Tools
book, try out a new work technique, etc. I feel scattered and overwhelmed by
the demands on my time.
A: Ground and meditate at the beginning of the day and you’ll feel calmer. Make
a list of all the tasks at hand for the month, week and day. Use a monthly
calendar so you can see what’s coming up. Prioritize and do the top items first.
See which are “shoulds” that you can reconsider and decide which are not high
priorities. Divide tasks into smaller segments and give yourself a brief break to
reward yourself when you complete a segment.
Get a stack of different colored index cards. One color could signal
personal tasks and another legal tasks, for example. Write one task per card,
and then spread the cards out in front of you. They’re already grouped by
theme by their color. Then take each stack of cards and shuffle to reflect your
top priority; which task is most important and time-sensitive for a deadline?
Enter your priority tasks on your monthly calendar, such as, Monday: call Ms. X.
and search domain names for website, etc.
Write on your calendar for the week what you’re going to do each day to
accomplish your goals. Include time in your written schedule for exercise and
quiet introspection. You’ll be energized by the sense of accomplishment while
procrastination is an energy drain.
Q: I’m a perfectionist, so sometimes I don’t even start on a task like cleaning out
a drawer because I’ll think I should clean them all.
A: Think of one task wrapped up as a gift, with lovely paper and ribbon. You just
open that box. The other “gifts” are not going to go away, so break up the task
into manageable bits.
Q: My wife and I run a small business with many projects going on at the same
time. How can I be less stressed?
A: It feels like when you experience a lot of demands you speed up to try to
handle them all. When this happens, blood goes to the mid-brain, the emotional
limbic center, instead of the rational forebrain, as when some people
experience exam anxiety and can’t access what they’ve learned. Take a deep
breath to oxygenate your brain and then put your hand on the bumps on your
forehead thinking of a peaceful place. Build in time for daily exercise to release
tension. Trace horizontal figure eights with your eyes and/or hands as any
movement that crosses the midline of the body helps balance the energy field.
To read more stress management techniques see my blog
Make a firm rule. When you are on your weekly date, no discussion of
work. Voice appreciation for each other daily. If one of you feels she or he is
doing more work and has less leisure time for health maintenance, make a list
of all the tasks and divide them up fairly.
Q: impatient or grouchy people irritate me. How can I cope?
A: Make it a game to see if you can get them to smile and give them a sincere
Q: I’m a procrastinator. I only get going on a task done right before it’s due.
A: Divide the task into small parts. Schedule in small chunks of time on your
calendar to work on the task. That calendar time is sacred. No answering the
phone. Decide on a reward when you’ve completed the task. Make your
workplace as pleasant as possible with a cup of herb tea, flowers, favorite
photo, comic strip, and a cartoon. Think about roots of resistance to authority
and rules that may be underlying resistance to completing a task.
Understand your personality type, as by taking the Keirsey and Bates
Inventory on line at http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/Jtypes2.asp. It’s the most
widely used personality inventory and is explained in their book Please
Understand Me. It’s useful to know, for example, if you’re a J or P: the former
likes structure and achieving goals while the quality of the process and
spontaneity is very important to Ps.
Q: I’m taking a major licensing exam. If I fail it as I did the first time, no license,
and no job. I’m very anxious.
A: If you’re scared, your blood goes to the emotional limbic part of the brain and
you can’t think clearly. It’s like trying to take your test from outside your body or
driving from the back seat. Start now writing down when you feel anxiety, where
you feel it in your body, and try different calming techniques. Note what works
best for you and use the tool every time, so by the time of the test you’ll be
practiced in staying calm.
Here are some different calming techniques to try: deep breathing, shut
your eyes and exhale with a ssss sound to release, visualize emerald green
light all around you, and do bilateral movements that cross the midline of the
body like making horizontal 8s with your eyes or cross-crawls touching opposite
elbow to knee on both sides. Imagine you have a guide or fairy godmother who
is an expert in your field who inspires and informs you, and use EFT. If you feel
anxious, notice what’s around you—like the colors in the room–to distance
yourself from the discomfort. Don’t look at the clock; just think about the right
An update: She passed. What she found most useful was doing figure
eights with her eyes while test taking and imagining a guide: “My fairy
godmother was with me the whole time, and made me feel easy and happy
during the test.”
Q: I’m a single parent with a job and going back to college. How do I get it all
A: *Schedule regular time to study on your calendar, just as you schedule an
appointment or work. You may need to trade with another parent to swap doing
something fun with the two sets of kids so you have uninterrupted time to study.
Find a quiet place.
*Identify key phases in assignments. If you’re not clear, immediately ask the
teacher for clarification so you don’t waste time being confused.
*Know your learning type. Are you right brain/global and need music, something
in your mouth, like to learn in a group, and are comfortable with stopping in the
middle of a task to go to another? Are you left-brain/analytical and need quiet,
to be alone, and to complete a task in a linear fashion A-B-C-D? Do you learn
best by seeing (visual), hearing (auditory), or feeling and doing (kinesthetic)? A
fourth type, auditory digital needs to have an internal chat discussing the new
concepts. We all learn best by combining our different senses: writing notes,
reading them, saying them out loud, and having a discussion where we link new
ideas to ones we know.
*Never ever read the assigned readings without a pen or underliner in hand to
take notes or highlight key concepts. This keeps you involved rather than
wasting time spacing out. Skim the reading first, looking at introduction,
subtitles and conclusion so you know what the author is trying to get across. If
you run out of time, skim without reading word for word so you get the important
*Carry reading with you in case you have to wait for an appointment.
*To begin organizing an essay, start by drawing a starfish or wagon wheel and
list topics you want to include on the spokes to brainstorm. Then organize the
themes into an outline and write from that. In your introduction, include your
theme and main points outlining how you’ll prove your theme in the essay.
*For research papers, take notes on index cards with only one theme per card
(such as analyzing the four main causes of the Civil War, theme one is
economic differences). Also note on the card the source (number a book as you
write it on the bibliography page) and page number of the quote, such as 3/267
for book three, page 267. Then sort out the cards by theme, organize theme by
theme, and write from the cards. Always provide evidence.
*In group meetings, start with an agenda with time allotments. You can vote to
extend the time on a topic if necessary. Assign a facilitator, timekeeper, and
recorder; it’s a good idea to rotate these tasks to share the work and practice
skills. When brainstorming, don’t judge any suggestion so you don’t inhibit
creativity. Save chitchat for after a task is completed, or set aside time at the
beginning to go around the group for a brief timed check-in about how each
member is feeling. Take time at the end to evaluate how the meeting went and
make constructive criticisms. Use effective communication skills when
disagreements arise, “I’m feeling ___ because__” rather than “You always….”
Putt a specific solution on the table for negotiation and do “active listening.”
Q: How can I stay fit when I sit at a desk all day at work?
A: Studies show sitting all day diminishes wellness. Every one-hour TV program
you sit through increases the chances of premature death caused by Disuse
Syndrome, raising your odds for dying from heart attack or stroke, from cancer,
and from other health problems.6 Do stretches, such as head rolls, overhead
reach, interlace your fingers and stretch your palms away from you while
relaxing your shoulders–then turn the palms toward the ceiling, rotate your
wrists, circle your shoulders, lean forward in your chair touching your head to
knees, fly like a bird reaching your arms up and down, do the runner’s stretch
and push ups against the wall. Do knee pull, waist bend, and finger fan. Sky
reaching, circle your elbows forward and back to lubricate the upper back.
Paula Barros, DC, suggests these workplace stretches:
Do a partner stretch, holding right hands moving back with a flat back.
Take hands and squat with your partner.
Windmill your arms, trading which is up and down with the breath.
For hamstrings, place a heel on a chair, and fold over your foot. Spine twist
right to left to massage internal organs. Healthy knees require well-stretched
Lie on the floor with calves on the seat of the chair.
Keep a yoga mat at work to stretch on the floor. Get an exercise ball to roll
around on when you’re talking on the phone. Elevate your feet.
*Keep a resistance band in your desk. Download exercises.7
*Take a break such as a short stroll outside, and talk with friends. In one study,
women who walked briskly at least three hours a week cut their risk of heart
attack and stroke by more than half.
*Rub your palms together and rest them over your eyes, visualizing black velvet
cloth for two or three minutes to relax your eyes. Rub in the notch in your eye
socket above the tear ducts. Look away from the computer frequently.
Download Tibetan eye exercise chart.8
*Take a fun lunch break instead of doing errands. Bring healthy snacks to work.
Eat a healthy breakfast to keep your blood sugar even.
*Bring art and fresh flowers to your office; listen to calming music on
*Post affirmations, inspiring quotes, and funny photos and cartons.
*Keep a stash of toys: kaleidoscope, silly putty, jacks, sock toss, yo-yo, dart
board, nerf balls, crayons, hand puppets, percussion instruments, etc. to use
when you get stuck or fatigued.
*Stick to your priorities. Leave your concerns about work at your workplace
when you leave.
*Handle each piece of paper just once: either respond, toss in the recycling bin,
file, or refer it.
*Set time limits on meeting agenda items, start on time, have the last person to
arrive take minutes. Be an amused anthropologist and notice the dominance
struggles, power games, ego boosting, coalitions, etc. See Franz de Whaal’s
Chimpanzee Politics to see how similar chimps are to humans in their power
*Turn problem-solving into a game.
*Relax commuting to and from work with an audio book or music. Review your
*Find out your Feng Shui reputation corner in the far left from the entrance and
put something valuable there, no waste paper basket.
Q: When I’m in front of the computer a lot, I get fuzz-brained and klutzy. What
can I do? It’s my work.
A: When our energy field gets scrambled, it gets “homolateral.” To get properly
aligned in a bilateral spiral, drink water and do exercises that cross the midline
of the body, like touching opposite elbow to knee in a “cross-crawl.” Imagine
looking at a horizontal figure eight with your eyes, as well as deep breathing
from your diaphragm. Also, tap under the collarbones, on your thymus, and on
the spleen meridian on the edge of the ribs. See a graphic of where to tap9 or
Donna Eden’s book Energy Medicine.
Try these Brain Gym exercises to get your brain organized.10 Take a break
every 1/2 hour or hour to stretch, crawl on the floor (anything right left
opposition is balancing), pound with your palms on your thighs growling like a
lion, eat something healthy, or imagine a beautiful vacation site. Put something
lovely by your workspace like a flower or crystal to keep your focus there.
Q: I have writer’s block, partly because my wife is a very critical editor. How can
I start writing again?
A: Don’t use her as an editor; hire a professional. Change your usual way of
approaching your work. If you usually sit down at your computer with a cup of
tea, take a pad of paper to the park and brainstorm ideas without judgment.
Write for half an hour or so everyday, even if it’s junk, just to practice. A good
idea or two may surface.
Q: With over 1 billion very poor people in the world, how can I start helping out?
A: I love the concept of giving someone a fishing pole rather than a fish. It’s also
good for your money flow in to give out monthly. Micro lending is an inspiriting
success story, which began in Bangladesh over 30 years ago. The borrowers
are mostly poor women who borrow as a small group and support each other
and learn about business in weekly meetings. Most of them repay the small
loans after buying moneymakers like a water buffalo or a sewing machine. As a
consequence of earning money, the women’s children are more likely to go to
school. The Grameen Foundation was the first micro lending organization; it
lends more than $25 million each month to more than 2 million borrowers on
four continents. We can give online to the grameenfoundation.org or I started a
literacy program in NW Pakistan that has no administrative costs.11 Our first
microloan project was a business started by a 35-year-old mother of nine
children, who sold fabric and blankets.
Q: Financially I am not doing well. How can I change this?
A: As with any goal, commit to spending an hour or so a day to action towards
your goal. Action to find a new job includes gathering information, getting
feedback on your resume, networking with everyone you know, using the local
college placement center, job fairs, and writing a description of an ideal
workday for you. Imagine yourself in a rewarding job and notice any resistance
that comes up, thoughts starting with “I can’t, I don’t deserve,” “My family
doesn’t….” and bring them to the light of consciousness to release their
sabotaging effects. Affirm in the present (not in future tense), “I’m grateful that
I’m gaining prosperity for me and my family.” For many ideas about how to save
money, read Be Thrifty: How to Live Better with Less by Califia Suntree.
The main barriers to financial success I’ve seen are the following beliefs:
*Spiritual people don’t concern themselves with making money.
*I don’t deserve wealth. It’s greedy and not ecologically sound to be wealthy.
*Money doesn’t grow on tree; it takes a lot of grinding effort. I don’t have the
knowledge about how to generate wealth.”
List your beliefs about money and riches, including family beliefs such
as “Our family doesn’t have good luck with money matters.” Be aware of your
approach to finances: Are you a spender, saver, avoider, or view it as too
mundane (what T. Harv Eker calls “money monks” (peakpotentials.com)? Think
about how you could use wealth to assist others. Eker suggests starting savings
accounts for necessities, play, education, the future, and charity. Put a specific
percentage in each account each month.
*Use Feng Shui to identify the prosperity section of your home and office and
clean it out, adding symbols of prosperity such as a gold coin.
Q: My money supply isn’t working; it looks like a great deal will close, then
something gets in the way. What am I doing wrong?
A: Sometimes I’ll see that generations of family beliefs about money being
scarce are stored in the subconscious, in cellular memory, which is what I see
happening with you. A simple energy tool for clearing is to imagine writing your
name and the present date in your energy field. Set your intention to end the
family pattern with you and visualize releasing the outmoded beliefs down into
the earth to recycle. Visualize money flowing in with abundance like the stars in
the sky and the lilies in the field. “We are what we think. All that we are arises
from our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world,” said the Buddha.
Q: I put my mother’s house up for sale. She needs the money but it’s been on
the market for months.
A: Get a Feng Shui book, consultant, or download Internet information. With a
Bagwa chart at your side to show you the focus of each room (health, career,
family, helpful friends, etc.) clean out and invigorate the energy of the house.
Start big with drums or pots and pans walking from room to room to shake up
the stagnant energy, and then get more subtle by using the four elements. Fire:
light a sage stick and waft it through each room, moving clockwise through the
house and circling each room. Set up an incense stick to burn as you clear.
Water: spray essential oils (such as a citrus oil like grapefruit) diluted in water.
Earth: put sea salt in little bowls in the corners of rooms to collect energetic
debris, then dump it when you leave. Air: set up mobiles and wind chimes to
keep chi moving.
Imagine lines of connection to prospective buyers who might benefit from
living in the house. If possible, plant new flowers in front of the house to greet
buyers. These rituals focus the power of your mind to set your intention to sell
the house. Also read about how to stage a house to make it appealing to
Q: I’m always struggling with money, trying to earn enough, to save it, not
wanting to be bothered with it.
A: Money is a neutral useful unit of exchange, but we overlay it with emotional
judgments. Think about your family’s beliefs about money and decide which
ones you want to keep. We live in an astoundingly abundant universe and can
match that reality rather than matching fears about scarcity and struggle.
To manifest a goal such as having more money, experts agree on these basic
principles. Visualize your goal happening now rather than in the future. Action
happens first on the energetic level so your intention is starting now like a
sprouting seed. Focus on the delight of achieving your goal when you wake up
and when you go to sleep, creating a thought form of gratitude and joy. Don’t be
too specific about how the goal will manifest, as your conscious mind doesn’t
know all the possibilities. Don’t dilute your focus by talking about your goal to
other people. Examine any self-sabotage in terms of feeling undeserving or
incapable. Be patient and on the lookout for synchronicities events as you move
towards your goal.
Q: How can I live frugally and ecologically?
A: To live ecologically and save money, buy used items, share with neighbors
(e.g., a rototiller for a community garden), compost your garbage and yard
clippings, eliminate red meat from your diet, turn off the TV, use the library, sundry
your clothes; ride a bike, take mass transit, carpool, and drive a fuel efficient
car. Wait a month before buying a major purchase to make sure you really need
Q: [Japan] I’m an osteopath overwhelmed with work, but for the last two years I
have no profit to show for it. My dream is to have a healing school.
A: When you walk from the train to your office, use the time to meditate and set
your intention for a positive money flow and doing wonderful service for your
clients. Set your intention for profit, watch for negative thoughts, acknowledge
them, and visualize clearing out self-sabotage from your unconscious mind.
Have a Feng Shui consultant make recommendations for your office. See
where it would be useful to increase the flow of energy with fountains, mobiles,
plants, gold fish, etc. Act on your dreams little by little, such as publicize a
workshop you want to teach to the general public, and put the name of your
healing school on the publicity to get the energy moving in a forward direction.
Look at your monthly expenditures to see where you can cut costs, as by
moving to a less expensive office or reducing staff hours.
Q: I had an unsafe childhood so I tend to be hyper vigilant. I’ll notice small
details like how many lights are on in a room. I also have trouble thinking of
myself as financially successful.
A: Some obsessive people are hindered by the time they take to re-check that
the oven is off or to repetitious hand washing, but you don’t seem to be slowed
down by your perceptions. I’d turn it into a game, where you quiz yourself and
then check your accuracy. Check and make sure your adrenals aren’t on
overdrive, because chronic cortosol arousal undermines the immune system.
Imagine a movie in which you play a man wearing an expensive suit, carrying
an elegant briefcase, getting into a new hybrid car. Pay careful attention to what
thoughts and feelings come up that may need to be cleared.
Q: Money burns a hole in my pocket; although I work hard, I have no savings.
A: You’re not alone, as the average personal savings in the US is less than 2%
of income and nearly one-quarter of families have no savings–the worst
savings rate among developed countries, tied with Portugal. It’s imperative to
have savings withdrawn from your paycheck into a savings plan like a Roth
IRA, so the money never goes into your pocket. (See this link for how to set one
up with a financial institution.13) Compounded interest on your savings really
adds up over time. Check out green investing so you know your money is doing
good as well as earning for you.
Q: I procrastinate paying my bills and then have to pay late fees.
A: The key to any procrastination issue is to do part of the task right away so
you get the satisfaction and energy boost of completion. Write out the check as
soon as you receive the bill. If you don’t have money in the bank to cover it,
write on the envelope the date when it will be OK to mail it.
If we put something off, it robs us of energy, while breaking a task into
small parts provides many opportunities for energizing successes. Use behavior
modification and give yourself a reward each time you follow through with your
plan, as simple as the thought “good job!” or a walk around your neighborhood
to take a break.
Q: I have an irrational fear I’ll lose my job and end up living in my car. How can I
get over this? I’m disappointed with myself for not dealing with it better.
A: This can be figurative rather than a literal image, but what came up for me
was a past life where you were raised in a protected environment in a wealthy
family. When you were finally exposed to poverty, it was so shocking to you that
you felt very guilty, leaving home to live a live of poverty in a convent, similar to
Buddha’s experience. Your guilt over your family’s wealth was so deep, it
carried over to your attitude towards money in this life. Every day say, “I
deserve financial security and I continue to be successful in my work.” Listen for
the “Yes, but….” thoughts that bubble up from the unconscious and use
acupressure tapping on them. We all have irrational beliefs we’re bringing into
consciousness and clearing, one of life’s purposes.
Q: Is it worth it to pay for a college education when lots of my graduate friends
aren’t getting a job?
A: It pays to get a college degree. The average graduate makes about $30,000
a year more then an average high school grad. An additional professional
degree adds $40,000. Start now to take advantage of compound interest
earnings. If a college graduate, age 22, begins earning $30,000 a year with an
annual raise of 1%, and invests 10% in a Standard & Poor Index mutual fund,
she’d have $1.4 million dollars at age 67. Women tend to invest too little, too
Women can’t rely on a husband, as women live 7 years longer and the
average age of widows in America is 55. Only 22% of women over age 65
receive a pension, while almost half of men do. The divorce rate is almost 50%.
Only 15% of divorced women get any court-ordered spousal support, and 5% of
that group can’t collect. In old age, nursing home care costs about $200 a day.
Q: I want to do to Europe on a shoestring. Suggestions?
A: *Buy a Eurail Pass and hostel membership before you go as they need to be
*Make a reservation for a hostel near your arrival airport because you’ll be too
tired to search for a place to sleep.
*Take a bandanna and ear plugs to sleep on the plane and other noisy places.
Also get a good guide book (Lonely Planet or Let’s Go) and a phrase book and
dictionary so you can be polite and ask questions, especially about directions.
*Check out Skype.com for free telephone calls around the world. Consider a
credit card that gives you a frequent flyer mile for every dollar you spend for
free flights in the future.
*Pack lightly. See http://www.ricksteves.com for a list of what to pack and other
European travel tips.
Q: I know nothing about investing, but know I should start saving so my money
can grow. How do I get started?
A: You can join an investment club to buy stocks that require minimum
purchases you can’t yet afford (www.betterinvesting.org). Clubs that hold stocks
for the long term do best. Have money deducted from your paycheck for
savings. Invest the full amount in a 401(k), which has a limit or a Roth IRA
permits a nondeductible contribution each year, but earnings and principle can
be withdrawn tax-free at age 59 1/2.14 You can invest in the mutual fund of your
choice. You can withdraw at any time without penalty, unlike a 401(k). An
annuity offered by an insurance company also permits deferring taxes, but
check their fees.
Stocks outperform all other investments, having returned about 12.7%
over the last 60 years (compared to 5.5% for bonds and 4.4% for Treasury
bills). A diversified portfolio includes large and blue-chip stocks, medium and
small companies, value stocks (bought at a bargain price), growth stocks,
international stocks, and a bond fund. Also diversify with investments in real
estate, gold and silver coins, art, as well as stocks and bonds.
*Software can help budget and financial planning, i.e., Quicken
(Intuit), Money (Microsoft)
H Brill, J. Brill & C. Feigenbaum. Investing with Your Values: Making Money and
Making a Difference. New Society Publishers, 2002.
*Bobbie Christensen. Building Your Financial Portfolio on $25 a Month. (800-
*Green Living magazine
245 Eighth Ave.
New York, NY 10011-1607
*The Handbook for Learn-by-Doing Investing and monthly newsletter Better
*National Association of Investors Corp.
711 W. Thirteen Mile Rd.
Madison Heights, MI 48071
*The Mutual Fund Investment Kit
Mutual Fund Education Alliance
1900 Erie St., Suite 120
Kansas City, MO 64116-3465
*Hal Brill, J, Brill and C. Feigenbaum. Investing with Your Values:
Making Money and Making a Difference. Bloomberg Press, 1999.
*Marshall Glickman (publisher of Green Living). The Mindful Money
Guide: Creating Harmony Between Your Values and Your Finances.
Ballantine Wellspring, 1999.
*Napoleon Hill. Think and Grow Rich. Fawcett, 1990.
*Richard Maturi. Chicago: Probus, 1994.
*Donate credit card profits to nonprofit organizations by using a
Working assets’ credit card (also provides long distance phone):
*Information about stocks: Diversify your portfolio, work with a
financial planner and invest for the long term.
Morningstar http://www.morningstar.com (well respected site); The
Motley Fool, fool.com (& other financial info); StockSelector, stockselector.
com (evaluates stock fair value); Quicken, quicken.com;
Vector Vest, vectorvest.com; valueline.com; American Association
of Individual Investors, aaii.org; bloomberg.com; theonlineinvestor.
com; fiance.yahoo.com; Zacks.com (compiles recommendations
of 50 experts)
*Free tax payment assistance: http://www.turbotax.com (to file the simplified
Form 1040EZ); hdvest.com
*Tax information: http://www.fidelity.com/tax; cyberinvest.com
*To estimate your Social Security earnings:
*To estimate how much you need to retire: American Savings
Education Council, http://www.asec.org; owl-national.org; financialengines.
*To find a financial planner (choose one who charges set fees
rather than commissions): National Association of Personal
Financial Advisers, http://www.napfa.org; Money advice and financial
planning: moneyadvisor.com/calc;.fool.com; gomez.com;
money.com (Money magazine); smartmoney.com; “Financial Facts
Tool Kit;” ka-ching.com;sec.gov/consumer/toolkit.htm;
*Best loan rates, as for a car or mortgage, or IRA, and other
finance: http://www.HSH.com; http://www.Gomez.com; http://www.bankrate.com;
financenter.com; GetSmart.com; Consumer Financial Network,
cfn.com (assists with finding cheapest rates on insurance, mortgages,
*Best rates for phone service, credit cards, loans, etc.: http://www.lowermybills.
com;.Insweb.com (insurance); Cardweb.com (credit
cards); LowerMyBills.com (long distance)
*Best car rates: http://www.carsdirect.com; wwwcarorder.com;
*Free internet access: http://www.microav.com; http://www.freei.com;
*Free computer technical help: http://www.NoWonder.com
*To swap: http://www.eBay.com; http://www.MrSwap.com;
http://www.IntelliBarter.com; http://www.WebSwap.com; http://www.Spun.com;
*Start your own business: http://www.ideacafe.com; Women’s Business
Center http://www.onlinewbc.org; http://www.smalloffice.com; http://www.americanexpress.
*Gender equity: http://www.equitymag.com/9909/
Canadian professor Aziz Choudry faults ivory tower scholars of social movements for ignoring the knowledge created by activists in the field, such as the University of Robben Island, the prison in South Africa that housed Mandela and other activists.[i] Choudry also faults isolated “stars” for not engaging in the activism about which they apply their theories: Collective Behavior Theory, New Social Movements, Resource Mobilization Theory and its offshoot Political Process Theory. The test of an efficacious theory is that activists find it useful, as Bevington and Dixon advocated in an article in Social Movement Studies in 2007.[ii] Chourdry advocates learning by doing, the Marxist theory of praxis that joins thought and action.
Choudry finds Marxist dialectical theory most useful in understanding activism, more recently called Subaltern Studies. It emphasizes the importance of engaging with and learning from the proletariat and other marginalized groups. This approach is called “history from below” “struggle knowledge,” and “learning from the ground up.” He includes anti-colonial and feminist theory in this category of valued approaches, and the writings of African American historian Robin Kelley. Choudry joins the ranks of other academics who press for more attention to the impact of neoliberal capitalist globalization as a continuation of colonialism and analyzing how to oppose it.
Although Chodry faults academics for not exploring racism, sexism, and classism within social movements, he doesn’t mention ageism. He only refers to youth several times (in reference to the Quebec student uprisings and to being “Generation NGO”) in Learning Activism: The Intellectual Life of Contemporary Social Movements (2015). He praised the organizing efforts of the Quebec students who were called “rioting spoiled children” for “forcing some to re-examine their cynical view of today’s youth as inherently individualistic and self-absorbed.”[iii] He doesn’t call attention to ageism other than these sentences.
[i] Aziz Chourdry. Learning Activism: The Intellectual Life of Contemporary Social Movements. University of Toronto Press, 2015.
[ii] Douglas Bevington and Chris Dixon, “Movement-relevant Theory: Rethinking Social Movement Scholarship and Activism,” Social Movement Studies Vol. 4 , No. 3, 2005. DOI:10.1080/14742830500329838
[iii] Chourdry, p. 25.
Many educators are interested in teaching students about the processes by which we think and learn, called metacognition (the term was coined by psychologist John Flavell and Ann Brown in 1976.) or Cognitive Strategy Instruction. The goal is to teach skills that successful students use to every student, to figure out personal strategies for learning and problem solving such as study skills and techniques for memorizing. For example, students may not understand why spent a lot of time studying for a test or writing a paper but got only an average score because they didn’t provide their own analysis and integration of ideas. We need to learn our strengths and weaknesses as learners and then plan effective strategies, such as asking a teacher for more feedback and evaluation.
A common problem is spacing out while reading or in class, which wastes time. We can study smart by staying focused by writing notes or diagrams while reading or in class rather than day dreaming or being distracted by media–another example of a metacognition activity. Instead of just reading passively, a student can do “self-questioning, “ ask “how” and “why” questions, compare and contrast, and write test questions. Another strategy may be to study in a quiet place in the library away from distractions, which I needed to do in my first years in university.
Evaluating and analyzing our study strategies and our weaknesses and strengths as writers and learners is a metacognitive activity. For me, it’s a waste of time to study late at night or when I’m tired. It’s better strategy for me to get up early to study, while you might be an owl who is wide awake at night. One more example of thinking about how to succeed in academia, if math word problems on a tests are difficult, it may be better strategy to answer the numerical problems first. My strategy with math classes was to get a tutor. If an approach isn’t working, evaluation and a plan are necessary. The basic point is if we’re not satisfied with our performance, we can figure out a different technique, perhaps by talking with instructors or successful students.
Please comment on your strategies.
Students today are often accused of being fragile, falling apart at the smallest problem, and spoiled because their helicopter parents micro-managed their lives. Many experts are now advising parents to let their kids solve their own problems and have unsupervised playtime with other children to learn how to cope with challenges like being chased in a playful setting. Many youth from high-risk environments achieve good outcomes, especially the women.[i] Specifically, one-third of children growing up in high-risk homes in Kauai learned resilience in a study by Werner and Smith. What helped was getting emotional support from a mentor and involvement in a community group.
The opposite of resilience or hardiness is feeling helpless, overwhelmed and hopeless. Educators are interested in learning how to teach resilience skills (such as the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence), the study of how to not be defeated by challenges and how to use them to grow stronger. Resilient people have the strength of character to risk making mistakes to stretch their abilities and follow up on reasonable goals. They take responsibility and don’t blame others. If a student doesn’t do well on a test, instead of blaming the teacher she or he can ask the teacher for suggestions about how to study more effectively. One way to cope with a difficult problem is to break it down into parts and tackle abstract and complex philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein. The reading became manageable when I committed to 50 pages a day. I had to really concentrate because the book was so complex, so I ended up writing an A paper despite my original feeling of being overwhelmed.
Another way to cope with challenges is to use positive self-talk, e.g., “This is difficult, but I will find help.” Part of being human is we continue to make mistakes and learn from them, as we evolve throughout our lives. We can expect to make errors of judgment with the intention of not repeating them. Can you think of mistakes that taught you valuable lessons? Resilient people think of themselves, not as poor me victims, but as survivors. Another characteristic of resilient people is they’re positive and optimistic. They express gratitude rather than focusing on what they don’t like. They look at the glass as half full rather than half empty. When you have a self-defeating “I can’t” thought, acknowledge the negative habit and replace it with “I’ll get help and do my best.”
[i] Emmy Werner and Ruth Smith. Journeys from Childhood to Midlife: Risk, Resilience, and Recovery. Cornell University, 2001.
“What I am interested in is just developing a whole new generation of talent,” Obama told NPR’s Steve Inskeep in an interview on Morning EditionThere are such incredible young people who not only worked on my campaign, but I’ve seen in advocacy groups,” Obama said. “I’ve seen passionate about issues like climate change, or conservation, criminal justice reform. You know, campaigns to — for a livable wage, or health insurance. And making sure that whatever resources, credibility, spotlight that I can bring to help them rise up. That’s something that I think I can do well, I think Michelle can do well.
To Rehabilitate Democratic Party, Obama Plans To ‘Coach’ Young Talent December 19, 20165:00 AM ET
Chapter 4 Turkey’s Uprising Crushed
Istanbul’s Gezi Park occupation, 2013. The banner refers to the activist role of the Carsi soccer fan club and includes the anarchist “A” symbol. One of their slogans is “Carsi is against everything.” The photographer wishes to remain anonymous for fear of repression. She gave me a tour of the sites of the uprising, shown on video.[i]
Contents: GezI Park Uprisings, The Aftermath: Assemblies and Demonstrations
GezI Park Uprisings
An observer who refers to himself as Ali B., pointed out that unlike the European uprisings, Turkey’s demonstrations were not caused by extreme austerity measures, but by the prime minister’s authoritarianism and dedication to massive privatization of land for real estate projects and urban renewal. His ADP (Justice and Development Party) represents neoliberal policies. Ali said these construction projects just benefit the bourgeoisie and Erdoğan’s desire to “leave a neo-Ottoman stamp on the city,” making it into an Islamic Disneyland.[ii] Some rural areas were aided by his economic policies and building and they feel comfortable with his working-class roots.” A young Islamic activist used Western media to convey his dismay: “It’s like the Lord of the Rings: We have the ring now, but we have become slaves to it.” More background on the book webpage.[iii]
Protesters’ signs called him “dictator,” told him to “Run [away] Tayyip, run!” and that they were fighting for democracy. I saw graffiti in 2016 saying, “Dictator will lose.” Protester signs blamed neoliberal capitalism, saying, “End the looting of the city. Capitalism out.” Another difference is that Erdoğan was elected fairly, unlike the Arab dictators, but a similar theme is the desire for freedom of expression without government censorship. Public opinion polls show that offended people by talking about “his people, “his policemen,” “his governor,” and so on. All the people who govern with him are men and his party’s rhetoric is patriarchal.
Youth were prominent organizers. “We have achieved a lot here,” said Okan Ozkan, a 19-year-old leader of Turkish Youth Unity, before police cleared the park on June 15. “But we are afraid that as soon as the protests are over it will be the same old country again.”[iv] The leader of the main opposition Kemalist party explained the failure of his party; “These kids communicate with other nations and demand to have the same confidence about this country’s citizens too. So far we have made them fear others so they vote for us. Now we see how wrong we have been.”[v] The minister in charge of EU negotiations called on “these young people to establish a political party. They would both force us to work harder, and take a step for the good of the country.”
Typical of their generation, many of the demonstrators were texting on a phone or recording the events on a tablet, dancing, chanting and singing with a sense of humor. Ayşe said the protests started with college students, and then workers and the general public joined in. Like young people around the world, they have access to American TV shows, music, and movies. They’re very creative and humorous, skilled in communicating electronically. Ayşe remarked that the public was surprised and shocked to “see that the cell phone generation has something to say, surprised at their level of political awareness, not just hooked on their phones, Internet and TV. We had no idea this would happen in Turkey. It changed the confidence of young people and trust in them.”
In order for a youth revolt to succeed, Public Policy professor Jack Goldstone points out that the national government must be undemocratic and weakened by a material or ideological crisis and elites must be divided. Networks are needed to mobilize popular support for youth-led protests from other discontented groups such as workers with falling wages and higher costs of living.[vi] Universities and cities congregate people who are most likely to rebel—young single men like Chinese students in Beijing who fomented the Tiananmen Square revolt in 1989 that is excluded from history books. Thus youth rebellions often occur at times with large increases in the number of university students, including before the English Revolution of 1640 and the French Revolution of 1789.
Writing in 2012, Goldstone didn’t predict the youth revolts in Turkey and Brazil because he viewed their governments as democratic and believed their economies provided opportunities for youth. He acknowledged that corruption was a threat to stability in emerging countries, but “other factors are moving to offset risks of rebellion.” He didn’t anticipate Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan’s drift towards Islamization and the Brazilian government spending about $30 billion to host the World Cup and Olympics, plus corruption scandals and impeachment of President Rousseff.[vii] Brazilian youth were angry with the large gap between the wealthy governing elites and the poor and Turks were frustrated by the increasing Islamization and autocratic rule of the Prime Minister. A Turkish author blamed his country’s “combative, divisive, cynical political culture.”[viii] “The Turkish model” used to be emulated as a democratic Islamic country, but when Erdoğan felt threated by the protests discussed below and a corruption investigation that followed in 2013, he became increasingly power hungry. Tunisia replaced Turkey as the new model of Islamic democracy.
Precedence for the Gezi Occupation in 2013 was the grassroots environmental movement a decade before, organizing against coal and hydroelectric projects. Environmentalists wanted to save the few remaining urban green spaces. The Neoliberal restructuring policies that began in 2001 created dissent. The Kurds had organized for greater autonomy for almost 30 years, as with an uprising from 1984 to 1999, which resumed in 2011. Young Kemalists defended Ataturk’s secular legacy, LGBT and feminists advocated their rights, communists spoke for workers, and anarchists opposed the state.
Young intellectuals saw that Erdoğan intended to lead the country towards a more authoritarian and Islamic state, as in his moves to restrict purchase of alcohol (it can’t be sold after 10 PM), require Islamic religion courses in school, attempt to ban abortion and adultery, and require that Ottoman Turkish with Arabic script be included in the national school curriculum. He said this language form is necessary to read old documents and gravestones as “history rests in those gravestones.” Police in some conservative areas told young couples not to kiss in public and violently repressed the 2012 May 1 demonstrations. Women were very offended when he said that a childless woman is half a woman and that they should have three children. In 2016 he said that using birth control is “treason” a follow up of his statement on International Women’s Day that a woman is “above all else a mother.” As well as a ban on birth control, his government proposed limiting abortion and caesarean sections. Two years previously Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said that women shouldn’t laugh in public, so women tweeted with photos of themselves laughing. Some protesters are also critical of the role of the army in Turkish public life, as well as discrimination again Kurdish and Alawite minorities.
Angered by HDP Kurdish party victory at the polls robing him of a majority in parliament, Using ISIS as a cover, Erdoğan authorized assaults on Kurds in 2015 and 2016. In July and August 2015, Turkish fighter planes bombed Kurdish villages in Iraq, killing civilians.[ix] Authorities cracked down on Kurdish activists in Turkey and arrested thousands.[x] In 2012, Kurdish youths organized in YDG-H, an organization affiliated with PKK militants, taking over Kurdish towns like Cizre on Turkey’s border. They’re called “the youth” who organize a growing number of “self-defense neighborhoods.” Other young people organize in groups like Anarchist Youth or Anarchist Women that indirectly support the HDP party although they believe in direct rather than parliamentary democracy. Many accused the president of placing his desire to contain the Kurds much higher than fighting ISIS. Turkey launched over 400 airstrikes on PKK’s base in the Quandil Mountains in northern Iraq, killing hundreds. In response PKK killed some soldiers and policemen. The military also pounded Kurdish cities such as Cizre, Sur, Yuksekova and Silopi in the southwest in 2015, destroying thousands of buildings. The excuse was getting rid of terrorists. The government said it would rebuild but only for people who signed a statement blaming PKK for the destruction. Erdoğan told Kurdish militants “You will be annihilated in those houses, those buildings, those ditches which you have dug” until “cleansed.”[xi] Photos are available, cited in previous endnote.
May and June Protests in Gezi Park
Despite the tradition of “obedience culture,” the Arab Spring spread to Turkey on May 27, 2013, as shown in my photos of key locations.[xii] Graduate student Balca Arda commented in an email:
Obedience Culture seems over-generalizing to me when one considers Turkey’s long tradition of activist organization. Although military coups in 1971 and 1980 imprisoned many leftist intellectuals and youth members, there is a specific politicized culture always active in Turkey. However horizontalist/ autonomous organization shaped activist organization in Turkey with the emergence of digitally-connected communication tools, as it does in all over the world. I think that any activist organization structured in vertical order can be considered as obedience-based.
In focus groups with 61 university students in Istanbul in 2010 they described themselves as apolitical, easily bored, and brand-conscious consumers. They also described themselves as creative and fun techies influenced by American media in a hybrid culture. Similar to their global peers, they described their parents at their age as more responsible, idealistic, respectful, better read, consuming less and more connected to Turkish culture.[xiii] Young people’s lack of activism changed when about 70 environmentalists and anarchists called for help guarding Gezi Park’s 80-year-old trees against the bulldozers in an economy based on construction. The spark that set off demonstrations in **Taksim Square with over 30,000 people was the government’s plan to convert one of the few green spaces in Istanbul, Taksim Square in Gezi Park, into a shopping center and hotel although Istanbul has the least amount of green space of any European city. Taksim isn’t green but the park next to it has many trees and lawn, with benches to rest and enjoy the bit of nature as shown in my video.
Protests for the “right to the city” (a widely-used term coined in 1968 by Henry Lefebvre to mean access to and influence on urban life) were often held in Taksim Square. Turkey joined uprisings in other countries in using open urban spaces, usually squares, to organize and demonstrate for change. A photo on the Global Youth SpeakOut Facebook album shows the occupation of the Ataturk Cultural Center on Taksim Square transformed from a “soulless black box” to a colorful collage of leftist posters and banners.[xiv] The building has historical significance but Erdoğan wants to replace it with a new building, perhaps with his name replacing Ataturk’s. Photos of the building on social media connected material and virtual space, leading young academic Basak Tanulku to ask, “Can soulless cities re-gain their life back due to the new culture of Gezi commune?” Photos of the 2013 demonstrations are on the Global Youth SpeakOut page and many videos are online, including Gazi to Gezi.[xv]
Around a dozen protesters spent the night in the park with two large tents and guitars. The bulldozers returned the second day and police used tear gas to oust the protesters. Like Julia Butterfly who guarded the old growth redwood trees in northern California by living in one from 1997 to 1999, protesters hugged, tied themselves, or climbed a tree and prevented demolition. Kurdish rights groups and several opposition members of Parliament joined protesters to stop the bulldozers, and the Confederation of Revolutionary Trade Unions called on its members to support the occupation. For the first time, the Kurds weren’t the main instigators of rebellion and understanding and support of their cause grew.[xvi] When a Kurdish boy named Medeni Yildirim was killed protesting the construction of a police station in Kurdistan, the Gezi activists organized demonstrations in support of the Kurds.
On May 29, several hundred people joined the demonstration to enjoy concerts, sing songs (John Lennon’s 1971 song “Imagine” is a global favorite) and watch films. Activists planted tree seedlings and a vegetable garden in the park. Demonstrators included young women with and without headscarfs and young men carrying flags and signs demanding “Tayyip Resign!” (see photos[xvii]). I saw more women in the protests in videos than in Middle Eastern countries. High school students brought their homework to study on the lawn. It started with protecting the trees in Gezi Park and then opened up a decade worth of discontent with the government.
About 150 people slept in the park, woken up at 5:00 AM by tear gas. The police burned their tents and fired tear gas canisters at their heads, kicking people holding onto trees. As news spread on social media requesting people to come to Gezi, by morning 5,000 people came to the park. By evening more than 10,000 people joined them in the park. Several hundred slept in the park, again roused by police who escalated violence. They shouted “infidels, Alevi bastards [a Shia sect], terrorists!” as they attacked the demonstrators.
By May 31 between 5,000 and 10,000 people gathered in the park and over two million Tweets with protest hashtags were sent. The next day #DirenGezi Parki (Resist Gezi Park, also a webpage) was the most viewed Twitter account. Turkey is fourth largest Twitter community behind the US, UK and Japan. Late that night, the police barricaded the park and closed all roads and public transportation leading to the park. People gathered in their neighborhoods and walked to the square, with estimates of 40,000 demonstrators. From their balconies, neighbors booed and yelled at police at they marched down the street to Taksim Square. A left-wing group of Beşiktaş soccer fans, called Çarşı, whose banner with the anarchist A heads this chapter, cleared the way for marchers to move past police into the park. Solidarity protests spread to other cities where police again used tear gas and water canons against peaceful crowds. A common slogan was “Everywhere is Taksim, everywhere is resistance.”
With each wave of police violence, the crowd grew larger—the largest in a decade. The Minister of Interior estimated 2.5 million demonstrators took to the streets, but the activists thought it was probably five million. Many thought it was the largest crowd ever assembled in Tashim Park. Professor Ayca Cubukcu, from Istanbul, explained at the Global Uprisings Conference that protests against shrinking urban space spread to more than 50 cities (I’ve seen different numbers). Diverse groups including socialists, feminists, LGBT activists, anti-capitalist Muslims, and Kurds supported the protests. Rival Istanbul soccer clubs came together to support the Solidarity Movement—similar to Egypt, tweeting “Damn American imperialism to hell.” They united under the slogan “We’ll fuck Erdoğan” (see a documentary about the clubs).[xviii] He responded, “If you use provocative words, our people will never forgive you. If you gather 100,000 people, I can gather a million.” Some protesters wore Guy Fawkes masks as in other Occupy movements and some threw Molotov cocktails at police in the park. In a reference to the American film The Godfather, posters of Erdoğan’s face imposed on the Mafia boss played by Marlon Brando were posted around the city. This protester unity was unprecedented and unexpected, professor Cubukcu observed.
Ali B. reported that demonstrations took place in every major city with new feelings of solidarity. Activist Joris Leverink reported that over 100,000 demonstrators took to the streets and in just a few days the protests spread to 80 cities.[xix] The new solidarity carried over to demonstrations to support Kurds when soldiers opened fire on them on June 28: “Before Gezi, it would have been unimaginable for such expressions of solidarity to spontaneously erupt from a non-Kurdish segment of society.” This unprecedented unity indicated the power of emotion and the Gezi spirit rather than simply economic motivations for political action. During the 15-day occupation, the demonstrators created a “culture of kindness.”[xx] Balca Arda emailed, “The Gezi spirit of kindness was remedying neoliberal brutalism under AKP’s rule. Therefore although motivations of Gezi protests seem to be not economic, there is a indirect economic reason behind it.”
Feminists and GLBT groups were active in the Gezi uprising; women painted over walls with sexist slogans against Erdoğan with white and purple and corrected football fans sexist chants. Women were almost half of the protesters occupying the park, despite their lack of representation in parliament and in management positions in the private sector. Turkish women were given the right to political representation in 1934, but in the 2011 general elections only 14% of members of parliament were women and a lone woman was on the cabinet, predictably in charge of the family portfolio. Erdoğan’s sexist policies generated extensive protests with slogans like “My body belongs to me.” The prime minister proposed that abortion, which he called “mass murder,” be prohibited a month after conception, and he urges women to have at least three children (Russia’s President Putin also urges women to have three babies but acknowledges they need social supports to be able to be employed). Erdoğan blames rape victims for being “immoral” and made it legal for families to take children (mostly girls) out of school after only four years. A slogan “every day, men’s love kills three women” highlights increasing violence against women. Ministry of Justice statistics showed that an average of 10,000 women are abused and/or raped annually.[xxi] He also opposed wearing red lipstick and white bread.
The film Mustang (2015) illustrates the continuation of cruel sexist practices in the present. The five teenage sisters are taken out of school and married off because a neighbor complained about them roughhousing with boys on the beach on their way home from school. A doctor gave them a virginity check because if there was any doubt among villagers they wouldn’t be marriageable. The girls are kept at home behind bars in what Lale (the youngest and strongest) calls a “wife factory,” teaching them to be housewives, to cook and clean. When the older sisters are married off, the second sister is taken to the hospital for a virginity check after her wedding night to a man she didn’t know because she wasn’t able to show the bloody sheet demanded by the groom’s parents. The third sister shoots herself rather than get married and to escape sexual abuse by her uncle. Ironically, their uncle and guardian listens to a TV show where the speaker says modest women shouldn’t even laugh out loud in public.
First-time director Deniz Gamze Ergüven travels back and forth from Turkey to France. When she returns home, “I feel a form of constriction that surprises me” so she wanted to explore the status of girls and women in contemporary Turkey in the film.[xxii] She said, “Everything that has anything to do with femininity is constantly reduced to sexuality,” as when high school principals prohibit boys and girl from using the same stairways. Women are viewed as babymakers “good only for housework.” However, the youngest sister leads a rebellion (played by an actor born in 2001), saving the fourth oldest sister from a marriage she didn’t want. They escape to her former teacher who moved to Istanbul. Ergüven described the young actors who played the younger sisters as empowered, “They are also crazily plugged-in; they know everything about everything.” I asked a Turkish woman about the film’s accuracy. She said, “It is exaggerated in some ways and it other ways it shows the truth. We had a real rape issue just a few months ago,” where children were abused by their teacher and the government made an attempt to cover-up.[xxiii]
The various groups of protesters are examples of social identity theory of social movements. An informal map of the “Republic of Gezi” showed the location of identity groups: anarchists, communists, socialists, nationalists, LGBT, environmentalists, Muslims and soccer fans. The theory explains that a person feels oppressed because of their identity as a woman, a Kurd, a gay person, etc. We can have multiple identities such as a lesbian Marxist Kurdish mother. How strongly a person identifies with these identities and how much she feels her actions will be effective determines commitment to take action. The large numbers of occupiers increased the feeling that together we can make a difference and group identities changed as demonstrators became more politicized and viewed themselves as activists.
Participants I talked with in Turkey all commented on the joyous feeling of unity, their shared dislike of Erdoğan, and the lack of fixed leaders as everyone did what they could to help. Social media let people know what supplies were needed on a daily basis. A participant who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, told me in June 2016 the demonstration was spontaneous, a strong reaction to what she called the last sip from a glass, what I would call the last straw being bulldozers in Gezi Park. She said people reacted emotionally and instinctually, from their hearts, like being in love without logic. Without any leaders, they communicated on Twitter and Facebook. She gave credit to one organized group, a left-wing group of Beşiktaş soccer fans, called Çarşı, who pushed police back so demonstrators could occupy the park and were in front when the police shot teargas canisters.
She said most of the demonstrators were well-educated and young people were the ones sleeping in the tents. They also excelled in their humor, making jokes and slogans to express themes. Their mothers brought them food. For a week it was Woodstock, she said. The Standing Man stood silently in Taksim Square, confusing police who didn’t know what to do with him. Despite their peacefulness, police violence continued. The main outcome in her view is that Turks who thought they were alone in resenting the president’s growing autocracy and efforts to Islamize Turkey realized they had allies. She told me that high school students prepared manifestos to protest efforts to change modern curriculum to an Islamic one. Turkey is a moderate Muslim nation, she said, unlike Pakistan or Afghanistan.
Two Turkish scholars cited in the next endnote observed that a new phenomenon emerged, different from previous contentious action, characterized by “peacefulness, creativity, insistency, sense of humor, and sudden expansion,” with “an immense amount of creativity and humor.” Different groups were able to work together. Police didn’t know how to handle new protest styles developed by the mostly educated middle-class urban demonstrators such as reading to police or the “standing man” who did nothing but stand in Gezi. Police finally arrested him around 2am, but let him go. A festival atmosphere attracted people to the park especially when police didn’t intervene from June 7 to 15. Protests were strengthened by the government’s vacillating between harsh police crackdowns and attempts to negotiate.[xxiv]
Although the demonstrations were initially peaceful, police moved in with tear gas canisters fired at people’s heads and chests, pepper spray, plastic bullets and water cannons. A university student told NPR that she heard police brag about shooting demonstrators in the face with gas canisters. Football fans referred to themselves as “tear gas addicts” from previous run-ins with police, so they knew how to deal with tear gas with vinegar, lemon or milk. A sarcastic sign read, “Enough, I’m calling the police.” College professor Ayşe explained that these were not ordinary street police, but special forces of young men who felt powerful with guns in their hands even though they were loaded with plastic rather than metal bullets.
Medical professionals who helped injured demonstrators were threatened with losing their licenses and police attacked and arrested lawyers who denounced the repression. Hospitals and hotel lobbies that treated injured demonstrators were punished with water hosing their interiors or with tear gas. Police even fired tear gas canisters at doctors in their white lab coats, beat hospitalized protesters and didn’t allow passage for ambulances, as shown in a video.[xxv] I visited the posh hotel next to the park whose owner opened it as a first aid center. When I was there in June 2016 a hotel staff checked each arriving car, using a mirror to look under the car. A 2014 law gave authorities new powers to prosecute doctors for giving unauthorized medical care.
The violence (five deaths and about 5,000 injuries included 11 people who were blinded in the first 18 days of demonstrations) and arrests of thousands of people generated sympathy in cities all over Turkey. Supporters banged pots or metal street signs at night from their apartments similar to Argentina, Chile and Quebec. The Prime Minister suggested in July that banging pots and pans is a crime and at least one criminal case was filed for this offense! Other protesters waved Turkish flags, and people drank beer in public toasting “Cheers Tayyip” because of his Islamic opposition to alcohol. Some neighbors threw down furniture from their apartments to help build barricades against the police and some made keys available to find safety in their lobbies. Large jugs of water were left out to extinguish the gas canisters. Neighbors also left out baskets of lemons and milk to soothe teargas and lowered food from their windows to feed the demonstrators. Restaurants left food outside their windows. Protesters were free to hide in restaurants and bars until tear gas cleared. Turkish flags were everywhere.
After two days of non-stop fighting, the police retreated from the square and Gezi Park. Similar demonstrations occurred in every major city, especially in the capital Ankara. They invited famous entertainers to join in. Labor unions organized a one-day strike to support activists on June 17, leading a university professor to observe, “The fear threshold has been broken,” as demonstrators weren’t afraid of the authorities.
The prime minister said they were “extremists running wild” and puppets of foreign powers. Similar to other autocrats, he called them terrorists, hooligans–çapulcu, although as a Sunni Muslim he supported the Syrian Sunni rebels against Alawite President Assad. **The protesters painted the word on their tents and printed çapulcu stickers so the word came to mean a champion of the environment and freedom. A sign read, “I’m a çapulcu baby, why don’t you gas me?” Activist and blogger Oscar ten Houten reported that authorities looked in vain for non-existent leaders because activists are not an organization but “a world wide web. We are the people on the threshold of changing times.”
Ten Houten reported on the revolution in his book Occupy Gezi (2013) as he saw it unfold. He included a map of the “Gezi Republic” with kitchen, first aid, library, radio, TV, etc. and the location of anarchists, communists, socialists, nationalists, LGBT, Greens, Muslim, Kurds, and soccer fans in the park.[xxvi] He commented on demonstrators’ courage in the face of police tear gas, bullets and arrests. The were supported by neighbors’ pan banging throughout various Turkish cities and shinning strong laser beams from their windows on the drivers of police vehicles—even throwing burnings sofas from roofs, plus demonstrations in various Turkish and European cities, the hacker group Anonymous attack on government sites, and Canadian magazine Adbusters created a poster on Occupy Gezi. An anonymous person blogged from Istanbul, “We have never felt so alive! They can’t kill freedom!”
Erdoğan blamed the uprising on a foreign plot to destabilize his government, part of what he viewed as a “global conspiracy” that spread to Brazil on June 17. Typical of his age group, he doesn’t understand the possibility of leaderless uprisings sparked by shared media. Referring to the banners and flags demonstrators posted around the square, he said, “Were we supposed to kneel before them and say, ‘Please remove your pieces of rags? They can call me harsh, but this Tayyip Erdoğan won’t change.”
After 18 days of the sit-in in Taksim Square (the same number of days as Cairo’s Tahrir Square), Erdoğan sent in a massive police force early in the morning on June 15 to clear out the thousands of demonstrators with tear gas, water cannons and rubber bullets, and make arrests. Cigdem Ozturk said at the Global Uprising conference it was a real war with protesters using slingshots to throw rocks. Like their global comrades, they said, “We’re not afraid of anything.” The police attack was brutal, despite children’s presence with their parents. Amnesty International reported human rights violations on a huge scale, including more than 8,000 injured protesters, the deaths of 22 of them, sexual abuse of women protesters by police (as occurred in Tahrir Square and Occupy Wall St.), and adding chemical irritants to water cannons. The report called for a boycott of all imports of riot control equipment to Turkey. Erdoğan later admitted, “The police acted severely,” so he brought the people responsible for burning the tents into his office and said proudly that he yelled at them to make them cry.[xxvii] Police beat journalists, some are jailed, and foreign reporters were deported.
Protesters said the huge fires in the square set by the police to burn the tents looked like the movie Apocalypse Now, using the global imagery of western films and TV series. Protesters retreated into surrounding streets where they build barricades, chanting, “Tashim is everywhere. Resistance is everywhere.” Gezi was cordoned off by police, but reopened on July 8 when crowds continued to gather, especially on Saturdays in neighborhood parks accompanied by police surveillance. Erdoğan organized pro-government rallies on June 16 with hundreds of thousands of supporters, offering free transportation while cancelling public transportation to protester events. He did suggest a public referendum on how to develop the park. After the square was cleared, protester Erdem Gunduz stood motionless in Taksim Square for six hours ignoring police harassment, becoming an icon of the rebellion. Gradually others joined him in standing silently reading books like 1984 and activists in other countries copied his “standing man” pose.[xxviii] People continued to come to the park to play music, sing, and debate politics.
Middle-Class Youth Activism
Committed to their individual rights, Nihan Dinca, a woman age 26, told Al Jazeera, “We are here for our freedom, for a space to breathe. We are here to be able to kiss in public, consume alcohol, read without any censorship. We are here for a life without any pressure from the state.”[xxix] Yesim Polat, 22, added, “Prime Minister Erdoğan thinks that he is a sultan, he does not listen to anybody, consult with anybody. He thinks he can do whatever he wants.” A university student commented, “We thought he got the message not to interfere with people’s lives at Gezi. I guess we were wrong.”
A video of the protests can be viewed online, showing many women on the streets, as well as other marginalized groups such as Kurds, students, and LGBT groups carrying signs identifying their causes.[xxx] The LGBT movement allied itself with democracy movements in Turkey and other Middle Eastern countries.[xxxi] A university student, (21, f) reported, “The government has sought to divide us, but has succeeded in bringing a lot of different people to the same cause.” Tanulku reported the largest group of demonstrators were well-educated urban young people with many women and leftists, leading to criticism that the urban poor were under-represented.[xxxii] However, resistance continued longest in working-class neighborhoods. Young street boys also participated. Most of the participants were previously apolitical, first time protesters.[xxxiii] Many of them vote but don’t trust political parties. They appreciated the number of protesters they trusted “to support me and help me” and the role of graffiti and music in showing “another way of life.”
A poll of 4,411 Gezi activists in June 2013 by the Turkish Research Institute reported that over half were employees, 40% were students, 56% had some university education, 13% had a university degree, 6% were unemployed, 3% retired, and 2% were housewives.[xxxiv] Many were from middle-class backgrounds, while poorer Turks supported Erdoğan’s AKP party. Demonstrators included members of trade unionists and farmers, not just young middle-class demonstrators. In the poll, the average age was 28 and 50.8% were female. Most said they were motivated by restrictions on their personal freedom, 37% were against the AKP, 30% against Erdoğan, 20% against cutting down the trees, and 20% against the state. Most (77%) learned about the demonstration from the Internet.[xxxv] Disenchanted with politics, 47% said there was no political party they wanted to vote for. According to three surveys of 5,409 Gezi participants, many voted for the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP). These voters were mainly young people raised by CHP parents.[xxxvi] About 30% were radicals who didn’t trust any political party.
Youth were prominent organizers. “We have achieved a lot here,” said Okan Ozkan, a 19-year-old leader of Turkish Youth Unity, before police cleared the park on June 15. “But we are afraid that as soon as the protests are over it will be the same old country again.”[xxxvii] The leader of the main opposition Kemalist party explained the failure of his party; “These kids communicate with other nations and demand to have the same confidence about this country’s citizens too. So far we have made them fear others so they vote for us. Now we see how wrong we have been.”[xxxviii] The minister in charge of EU negotiations called on “these young people to establish a political party. They would both force us to work harder, and take a step for the good of the country.”
Typical of their generation, many of the demonstrators were texting on a phone or recording the events on a tablet, dancing, chanting and singing with a sense of humor. Ayşe said the protests started with college students, and then workers and the general public joined in. Like young people around the world, they have access to American TV shows, music, and movies. They’re very creative and humorous, skilled in communicating electronically. Ayşe remarked that the public was surprised and shocked to “see that the cell phone generation has something to say, surprised at their level of political awareness, not just hooked on their phones, Internet and TV. We had no idea this would happen in Turkey. It changed the confidence of young people and trust in them.”
Activist Foti Benlisoy from Istanbul said at the Global Uprisings conference that attempts to portray the conflict as a culture war between secular youth and the Islamist government obscures the actual leftist motivation. The protest was a right-to-the-city movement against the encroachment of capitalism on the urban public space. Ubiquitous urban renewal projects around Turkey displace the urban poor and erode common space for everyone. During the occupation of the park they created a transfigurative alternative to capitalism and “existing social conventions.” As well as organizing food and medical care, demonstrators set up LGBT and gender awareness tents and invited individuals to talk with someone with different religious beliefs. Efforts by unions to strike weren’t successful. Benlisoy said Gezi was not the classical Marxist workers’ revolt. The new proletariat is formerly middle-class professionals who have precariously fallen into the working class, economically alienated due to neoliberal policies. Although they don’t think of themselves as working class, he believes they’ve permanently lost their high level of prosperity in an era when youth unemployment averaged 19% from 1988 to 2016.[xxxix]
Benlisoy advocates replacing spontaneity with strategic planning for alternatives to capitalism because “improvisation alone is not sufficient to confront the enemy.” The Gezi uprisings didn’t change the balance of power, he said, but ended the moral apathy of the last 15 years and began the struggle for the right to the city. He viewed the uprising as weakened by the lack of general strikes and mainstream labor movement support.
As in other Occupy movements, young people set up a tent city with a library including books donated by publishers, free food distribution centers, first aid center, pharmacy, plant nursery, children’s center and playground, stages for musicians and workshops in a variety of subjects including yoga and painting. A group called müştereklerimiz (“Our Commons”) helped set up some of these centers. Different tents featured specific approaches such as socialist feminists who erased sexist slogans from walls or media experts who recorded the protests. A “feminist tent” was set up the first day of the occupation and remained active. Everything was free, they practiced direct democracy, and some professors held classers in the park. Many people crowded the area almost like sightseeing but also to show support. Ayşe said they created an alternative city with a multitude of activities, until the police burned the tents and other structures.
Many of the protesters were previously called apathetic because their middle-class parents who had experienced traumatic coups told them to be quiet, similar to the Arab Spring countries. Surkru Argin called them not apolitical but counter-political. But Balca Arda doesn’t compare Gezi protests with the Arab Spring: “Turkey has a tradition of parliamentary system since the Ottoman era. AKP government has been elected by democratic elections although corruption in voting exists and there is a high percentage threshold (%10) for entering the parliament in Turkey. Consequently, Arab Spring cannot be the primary source of comparison in my mind.”
As we’ve seen, anger galvanizes rebellion when it seems like other people are showing up. A young lawyer who read about police burning tents in Gezi Park said, “I got really angry and I called all my friends” to demonstrate with her. They bought gas masks and water at the pharmacy on their way to the park. Even thought they were assaulted by water cannon, they were motivated to continue marching by neighbors banding pots and pans in support and their political will changed with their new identities as activists.
Thousands of the lawyers joined the demonstrators similar to their helpfulness in the Tunisian uprising of 2011, therefore Turkish eyewitness reported on Facebook on June 12,
Couple of hours ago, police attacked the biggest court house in Istanbul and arrested around 70 lawyers, who were only protesting against the morning attacks, probably as a response to their help with protecting the rights of the people arrested and injured during last weeks protests. In response to today’s events, people of Istanbul are going back to Taksim Square this evening at 19:00 possibly with larger numbers than the protests on May 31. Please share this information. The Turkish media has failed miserably and it is very important that the world knows what is really going on in Turkey.
One of the protesters interviewed by BBC TV said his goal and that of other young intellectuals was a socialist revolution. He definitely considered himself a revolutionary and others mentioned their opposition to “neoliberal impositions of uniform ways of living, producing and consuming through violence….” Demonstrators chanted “shoulder to shoulder against fascism,” “anticapitalism,” and “capital out.” Muslim groups against capitalism and for democracy were active, not just secular youth. At the same time, thousands of protesters marched in European cities including Brussels, Madrid (chanting “Government, resign”), and Lisbon “(IMF, out of here”) to protest austerity programs and neoliberalism. In front of the European Central Bank in Frankfort they chanted “Humanity above profits.” More than 10,000 protesters gathered in front of the Bank’s new headquarters in Frankfort in March 2015 with the slogan “Blockupy,” met by a large police force.
An observer viewed youth activists as less ideological than youth in the ‘60s and ‘70s who were “more ideological” and aligned with political parties.[xl] The majority of protesters were motivated by government restrictions on their liberties, not just by desire to protect trees. They blamed the Sultan, the Dictator. As in other uprisings, no central political organization existed although a Taksim Solidarity umbrella group (with over 100 groups, see their Facebook page) coordinated some of the Gezi sit-in. I asked a Turkish participant in the uprisings about this group: She is afraid to email the president’s name so she used his initials: “Taksim Dayanisma held a talk with rte (you should know who this is) for negotiations. They did some organizing on Twitter after the first days.” The group presented the government with five demands: keep Gezi a park, end police violence, ban tear gas, release detained protesters, and lift all restrictions on meetings in public squares around the country. Prominent members of Taksim Solidarity were investigated under anti-terrorism laws.
Role of Media
Twitter (#OccupyGezi[xli]) and other social media were used to communicate, as the mainstream media didn’t cover the demonstrations. For example, during the height of the clashes, CNN Turkey ran a documentary on penguins instead of covering the demonstrations, leading to posters of penguins saying “Antarctica Supports You” and a penguin with a gas mask. Graffiti on walls stated, “Fuck the media.” “Penguin media” was an insult. A Capul TV station was set up in Gezi Park to broadcast events.
Because millions of tweets were sent in a day, the prime minister denounced Twitter as a curse “the worst menace to society,” despite having two million Twitter followers himself. The Ministry of Communication tried to get copies of messages sent on Twitter and Facebook during the uprising, but the companies refused. The government sent out its own tweets. An eyewitness reported that events were staged for the media to make demonstrators look violent while real events were ignored. Turkey is rated poorly on freedom of the press, ranked 154 out of 179 nations in the World Press Freedom index. In February 2014, parliament used a 2007 law to allow the government to block webpages without court order after YouTube was blocked for 18 months. The prime minister shut down YouTube because of leaked government conversations about provoking military intervention in Syria. The updated law forced Internet companies to retain data for two years so government could access it. Turkey already leads the world in jailed journalists, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, and is the top country for requests for Google to delete content. A student named Nedim Coskun worried, “The media already distorts the truth because it is under the government’s control. So when they take over the Internet, everything will go black, and we will become ignorant and Erdoğan will gain power.”[xlii]
The government put 29 people on trial for tweets posted during Gezi, accused of “inciting the public to break the law,” and three were also accused of insulting the prime minister. All but two were acquitted in September 2014. Facebook reported that India and Turkey were the most frequent censors of its pages, such as blocking “The Other’s Post” that reported on Kurdish issues and the Gezi protests. As president, Erdoğan said, “I don’t like to tweet, schmeet, because you know what they cause in society. Facebook and Twitter are ending lives,” but he uses social media anyway.[xliii]
Protesters went to the streets again to be met with the familiar water cannon and tear gas not afraid of the fact that thousands of activists, health workers, journalists, lawyers, and teachers had been detained and investigated at their schools or workplaces and their homes raided. Thousands were injured; water cannon can damage eyes, it’s not just about getting wet. An “Urban Transformation Act,” called the “Disaster Act” by activists, aims to remove legal barriers to building projects. Conflicts were exacerbated by economic problems in 2013 and 2014 when Turkey and other developing countries were hurt by the US Federal Reserve slowdown in bond purchases, leading to rising global interest rates.
Hundreds of protesters again went to the streets to protest the Internet censorship bill on January 18, 2014, and police fired the usual rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons. Erdoğan shut Twitter down in March 20 before important local elections, but of course young techies figured out ways to get around it and it was available again in a few days. A professor said his son got through the ban in 15 seconds. Student Engin Alturk said, “We know all the tricks to get around this. Erdoğan must think us stupid.” In a series of tweet President Abdullah Gul opposed the shutdown. Erdoğan threatened he would eradicate it; “I don’t care what the international community says. Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic.” He viewed users of Twitter and Facebook as people who “incite any kind of immorality or espionage for the profit of these institutions.” A widely re-tweeted post showed the Twitter icon of blue birds over the prime minister’s head dropping excrement on him. Another put his face on an Obama campaign poster with the modified slogan, “Yes, we ban.” And another slogan referred to the Emperor’s New Clothes, “Look, the king is naked!” Later in the year after a quiet period, in November Erdoğan came out against coed dormitories at state universities including off-campus housing.
The Aftermath: Assemblies and Demonstrations
The main outcome of the uprising is that the people are empowered, although currently in a period of discouragement. An activist named Zeynel Gul said self-organizing in the Gezi occupation “gave us a powerful sense of a world based on solidarity and equality, which we could not imagine before. No one can take away what we experienced in the park.”[xliv] Since Gezi, Turks have given support to minority groups including LGBT people, Kurds, feminists and Alevis (the largest Shia sect that the police insulted in their conflicts with the demonstrators). Since no major political party represents the goals of the uprising, forums focus on neighborhood problems such as evictions.[xlv] Other post-Gezi outcomes are boycotts, strikes, marches, and public forums. The fact that over half of the protesters were women is empowering, calling attention to government gender discrimination. A Gezi slogan is, “This is just a beginning, we keep struggling,” in the spirit of the Zapatistas.
The June 15 eviction from the park evoked huge anger and frustration that crystallized in general assemblies—about 70 throughout the country as of November 2013, according to Cubukcu. They formed self-organized, democratic, leaderless assemblies called “people’s forums” in various neighborhoods as done in Spain, Greece, the US and other Occupy Movements. Activist Binnaz Saktanber reported that assemblies in the Gezi Spirit continued in local parks around the country, some with thousands of participants, some a dozen. Activists set up barricades in some neighborhoods and parks, stood silently in protest, and threw stones at police. They offered workshops, yoga, art activities, and free books, as in other global occupations of public spaces. They created their own radio station and newspaper. The Turks used many of the familiar hand signs for communicating in a large group, such as crossed arms means no. People line up with a number in order to speak for a few minutes and no applause is permitted, as hand gestures signal approval or disapproval. Cubukcu observed meetings were generally quite smooth, although in some neighborhoods some political parties were prominent.
Cubukcu reported the assemblies began by sharing experiences with weeks of police violence as a way of healing each other. I imagine this process is similar to the communists forming Speak Bitterness groups for peasants after they took over China in 1949. They focused on how to sustain solidarity and collaborate with groups in different neighborhoods with weekly newsletters. Some forums brought in experts on topics such as what to do when arrested or how to form alternative media. Spontaneous actions occurred like protesting Egyptian President Morsi’s ouster by the military at the Egyptian embassy, protesting censorship at a TV channel, visiting wounded demonstrators in hospitals, and joining protesters shouting Kurdish slogans in a Kurdish town where police killed a demonstrator. Some assemblies were open and some had themes like LGBT pride. They discussed boycotts of certain corporations, formed social media platforms, worked with small shop owners, discussed non-sexist language, conducted legal rights workshops, and discussed how to influence urban transformation. One theme that united them all was anger at the Sultan.
Turkey’s first squat is a social center called Don Kisot (Don Quoixte), set up shortly after the eviction from Gezi Park. The Windmill Solidarity group claimed their “right to the city” and occupied an abandoned building (vacant for 15 years) to create a squat culture center with spaces for art, conferences, forums, children’s events, and concerts. Painted by the entrance to the first squat is “another world is possible.” Authorities shut it down in 2015.
Another act of direct democracy inspired by Gezi, female and male workers took over the in Istanbul textile factory on June 28 after their bosses disappeared without paying four months of back pay and after two years of struggle, stating, “No one will ever be able to exploit our labor again.” A short video documents the takeover where one of the workers said, “I learned not to be afraid.”[xlvi] They adopted the slogan of the Landless Movement in Brazil, “Occupy, Resist, Produce!” One of the members of the cooperative said the Turkish state is pro-boss so they want women to stay home and have lots of children to produce more slaves for the bosses.[xlvii]
Protests continued, including weekly Saturday demonstrations, even though the court said the park should be preserved. Although two Turkish scholars concluded that other than the cancellation of the development of Taksim, the protests “did not have any other substantive outcome,” they do acknowledge a new identity resulted.[xlviii] Other disagree: A Facebook post on August 5 reported, “Gezi Park is closed and cordoned-off on a near-daily basis, but the Turkish resistance lives on. In the streets, on the barricades, and most definitely as well in the parks, at the people’s forums all across the city.” People started painting public steps and streets in bright colors. When the authorities painted them back to gray, the people painted them rainbow colors again, as you can see.[xlix] Ayşe observed that discussion continued in public parks and universities, discussing national politics and local issues. These public forums use consensus decision-making. She added that in rural areas people have always made time for social connections in their neighborhoods.
A video titled After Gezi highlights the ongoing protests, including anger at repression of Kurdish and Alevi people and accusations that Erdoğan assisted the Islamic State terrorists in order to weaken the Kurds and Assad’s Alevi regime in Syria.[l] People went to the streets when Berkin Elven died, after Soma mine workers were killed in a mining accident, and protesting lack of support for Kurds attacked by ISIS. The “Children of Gezi” civil organizations continue to meet, as in the Radical Democracy Urban Encounter in December 2014, committed to making cities meet the needs of all the urban dwellers, not just the rich.[li] Erdoğan blamed opponents for being pawns of the Israeli intelligence agency, Mossad.
Critics were angry about the new presidential compound with over 1,000 rooms on almost 50 acres of land costing $1.2 billion and the purchase of a new presidential jet. Despite a court ruling that the development was illegal, Erdoğan said, “If you have the power and the courage, then come and demolish the building.”[lii] His family moved in at the end of 2014. The arrest of a 16-year-old boy for insulting the president by calling him the “thieving owner of the illegal palace” created an uproar.[liii] After his release the boy, known as M.E.A. said, “We shall not yield to the fascist unprogressive pressure.” He said Ataturk inspired him and his mother was proud of him. Turkey’s Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag reported that 1,845 cases were pending based on charges of insulting the president from 2014 to 2016.[liv] Bozdag justified these actions: “I am unable to read the insults leveled at our president. I start to blush.”
Around the same time, 35 soccer fans who took part in the Gezi demonstration the previous year were put on trial for being part of a conspiracy to “remove the government,” threatened with life in prison. Police raided media centers accused of being aligned with Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen for trying to take over the government. When the EU protested, Erdoğan told them to “keep your opinions to yourself” and it didn’t matter if Turkey is accepted into the EU.[lv] His government increased the number of religious schools that provide food and free transportation and limited the number of secular schools, thereby limiting parents’ choices about their children’s education. He mandated classes in “religious values” starting at age six. We’ve seen his goal is to raise “a pious generation,” meaning conservative Islamic. He also told schools to teach about Islam’s contribution to arts and sciences and Turkish Ottoman language “whether they like it or not.”
Turkey struggled with a $129.1 billion debt due in 2015 and a credit squeeze due to the end of low-interest rates set by the US Federal Reserve that fueled consumer credit card spending with a collective debt of $45 billion. Activist Joris Leverink predicted a severe economic crisis when the bubble bursts. He hopes that it will generate “rapid social awakening,” as happened in Argentina and Greece after economic collapse. The ROAR Magazine collective of researchers predicts for Turkey and globally, “The everyday resistance of the ordinary people will burrow its way through society, cracking the concrete, undermining the foundations of the neoliberal urban landscape, and ultimately allowing us to reclaim the physical and political space we so desperately need to live, produce and share in common; in solidarity, democratically, and as equals.”[lvi]
Kurdish youth organizations became “more vocal, violent and popular” with the urban guerrilla YDG-H (Patriotic Revolutionary Youth Movement) young Kurds striking back after Turkish attacks on PKK bases in eastern Turkey and northern Iraq. Nationalist youth attacked Kurdish neighborhoods and offices of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).[lvii] To counter resistance, parliament passed a law in March 2015 that broadened police powers to use guns against demonstrators armed with firebombs or other “injurious weapons” and to detain demonstrators fro 48 hours. Protesters who cover their faces can be sentenced to five years in prison if convicted of spreading propaganda for “terrorist organizations.”
Two years after the Gezi uprising, thousands of police blocked the entrance into Gezi Park to prevent demonstrators from offering carnations to celebrate the second anniversary of the protests. The AKP party lost its majority in parliament in June 2015 after over a decade of its rule, but regained it in November with accusations of media censorship and intimidation of voters. Western article headlines stated, “Turkish election campaign unfair, say international monitors,” and “The ruling AKP won yesterday’s Turkish election through sheer violence and repression.”[lviii]
Interviewing various Turks in June 2016, a businesswoman I’ll call Perran said that Gezi activists were punished, not able to get work, some put in prison. She said the upper court said it was legal to build a shopping center in the park that nine people died to protect and the president vowed to go ahead with the building. She added that Erdoğan privatized nation resources, selling land and water to foreigners, as well as building infrastructure. In Istanbul I was shown tall buildings that violate building codes pushed through by Erdoğan. If was told if he loses a future election many suits will be filled against him and he’ll have to go to jail, so he plans to stay president for life. He allowed violation of building codes with tall buildings that block views and wind flow and prevented police investigation of corruption publicized in leaks about shoeboxes of money in homes of sons of government ministers. A woman named Meral Aksener, a former conservative party minister, wants to be leader of her party and replace him. About the migrants, Perran said the educated ones went to Europe, leaving behind peasant farmers who squeeze many families into one apartment and have many children. She sees them begging in cities and sleeping and parks.
Another Gezi participant, who I’ll call Ceyda, said Erdoğan is a Darth Vader-like radical who thinks he’s perfect and the country’s father who did succeed in bringing Turkey out of the economic crisis of 2001. He’s like a prophet to uneducated people. She also said he sold the national resources to outsiders and tries to impose his conservative view of Islam in a country where most people think your religion is personal. The biggest mistake of the government before Erdoğan was forbidding wearing hajib in places like universities, hospitals, and government buildings. She thinks Gezi scared him because he still talks about it three years later, while the people gained more confidence. I videotaped her walking me through the hotel, park and square where the large demonstrations occurred in well-to-do areas of European Istanbul. Afraid of retribution from authorities, she asked that I not film her face.
I asked her about youth participation, she said they started the demonstrations when they set up tents to protect the park and were 80 to 90% of the demonstrators because other people were working. Their mothers came to support them the next day. With almost a million demonstrators, people of all age were represented, most well educated. Gezi was like Woodstock, with singers and other entertainment and exhilarated crowds of people. What organization there was done on the Internet, but Ceyda said no group and no leaders were in charge. Feminists, anti-capitalist Muslims, GLBT activists, Kurds, and environmentalists were all active.
A soccer fan, Ceyda is proud of the Besiktas fans of the local Carsi team; their banner with the anarchist A heads this chapter. When the police blocked the marchers, the Besiktas pushed them aside so people could keep walking, and the police pushed back in a kind of dance with their helicopters flying overhead and firing tear gas canisters and plastic bullets. Another hero, the owner of the elegant hotel at one side of the park opened its doors as a first aid station to treat tear gas inhalation and other injuries. Some of the fans and other leaders were jailed as traitors despite the group’s collecting money for the poor and other social activities.
Participants in the Gezi Park uprising described being there. None of them wanted their names used because of the pattern of government retaliation. At a middle-school in Istanbul, teachers said they were afraid and didn’t want their principal to see me talking to them and think they were up to something as they sat smoking across the street from their school. A mother of a student, the friend of the teachers, asked if I was a spy. A teacher asked me not to ask political or religious questions of the students I interviewed on video, but they brought up criticism of the government. The adults were surprised when students supported the Gezi demonstrations, thinking of them as lost in social media. Also after 1980 parents raised their children to be afraid of the government and be quiet. After Gezi, they realized that young people could take action. A middle-age man said everyone shared, supermarkets delivered food, there was no violence. Neighbors left out keys in case demonstrators needed to get away from police or teargas, they left out lemons and medicine and food. When they tried to have an anniversary demonstration, police prevented it. Now, people lack hope.
A female teacher in her 30s said she too lacked hope but she noted that Gezi inspired people to protest, as when a member of the government suggested that pregnant women not go out in public because it would make people think of sex. Many pregnant women gathered on the streets in response. After Gezi, GLBT organizing and gay pride events increased, along with the women’s movement and efforts to help battered women, and organizing for the environment and animal rescue. However, a businessman in Istanbul said the gained nothing from the Gezi protests, “Now it’s impossible to organize such protests. People think the results will be the same.”[lix] Another man worries that, “We used to be the secular republic. Now, we don’t know what we are.”
In Turkey I asked teens and adults about characteristics of the younger generation in 2016. Perran, a business woman from Istanbul age 48, said they’re more pessimistic about getting a job, more individualistic, and less well educated because the quality of education decreased because of the increase of Islamic schools and teachers aren’t paid well and many “lost their enthusiasm.” Students are promised government jobs if they graduate from the religious schools and families get free food and sometime money, but young people with money go to private schools and try to study and work abroad. In some of the religious schools girls are “covered,” the word Turks use for wearing hijab, as early as age five. They teach that women shouldn’t work outside the home. Although almost every city has a university and fees are small, there aren’t enough professors. Urban youth lack social skills because of spending so much time on their electronic devices, starting as young as age three. Some kids don’t sit down to eat without their iPad.
High school students led protests against traditionalist education policy in 2016. High school students in an academic high school where their first year is taught in English, turned their backs when their principal was making a speech and wrote a manifesto about their goals. Their campaign spread to other schools. Conservative school principals were sent in to replace more liberal administrators, including the school I visited. They cancelled festivals and made strict new rules such as about the length of girls’ skirts. A teacher said the traditionalists “Don’t want people to be happy. The fly is small but it makes you sick.” Students and their parents have protested conversion of their local schools to Islamic schools and requirements to learn Arabic.
I asked Emrullah Ataseven to critique the Turkey section: He’s a Ph.D. student in Istanbul and translator who observed the protests.
I would like to appreciate you for your detailed and toilsome research. You analyze and summarize the situation very well. As you noticed the protests and events at Gezi have a multi-layered character. Turkish nationalists, Kurdish activists and secular republicanists together protested Erdoğan and his government. However, in the course of events, the attitude of some protestors changed. For example, the Kurdish political movement became more distanced with the mainstream Gezi protestors after the emergence of such slogans as “We’re the soldiers of Mustafa Kemal.” You could argue Kurds’ position. Also, the Alevi question could be emphasized. The majority of Alevis in Turkey support the Republican Party (CHP) and this party in the past was reluctant to give Kurds and Conservationists their rights like hijab and education in Kurdish. So, it is debatable to evaluate Gezi as a purely human rights movement.
The political life in Turkey is so changeable, the cease-fire declared by the PKK was abolished. This indicates the fragility of Turkish democracy. That’s why I think Gezi movement was a strong movement in terms of environmentalism, freedom of speech and minority rights but it did not lead to an enduring democratic body. Young people were more politicized, developed means of peaceful protests but an all-pervasive democratic understanding could not flourish. The solidarity aftermath of Gezi could enhance democracy. The party in power (AKP) lost remarkable seats in the parliament and violence restarted in the country. The Gezi spirit could contribute to a permanent peace but as in the case of Arab Spring, perhaps, it is early to say that movements like Gezi in Turkey can construct a well-established democratic youth movements.
In reaction to Erdoğan’s push to convert public schools to Islamic schools that are sex-segregated and teach Sunni Islam, the Turkish High School Students Union, TLB, circulated a petition signed by more than 370 schools by spring 2016.[lx] TLB leader Bora Celik said these schools don’t permit girls’ volleyball teams because they would wear shorts, they don’t permit literature or poetry societies, and have prayer rooms instead of laboratories. The main opposition party backs the students and parents demonstrate against plans to convert local school to increase the more than a million religious Imam-Hatips. President Erdoğan graduated from a religious school and aims to change the curriculum to raise a “pious generation.” Islamization results not only in protests by secularists but violence from religious zealots, as when a group of 20 men beat up customers in a record store in Istanbul in June 2016. Their crime was listening to the British band Radiohead and drinking beer during the holy month of Ramadan.
On July 15, 2016, junior officers attempted a coup (the military led four previous coups to preserve secularism in 1960, 1971, 1980 and 1997) while Erdoğan was on holiday, aiming to protect democracy and human rights and “reinstate constitutional order.” The coup was probably triggered by rumors that the president was going to fire many officers the following month. The coup leaders promised a new constitution and an end to corruption and terrorist attacks. The constitution charges the army with upholding democracy, as established by Ataturk, but all the opposition parties including the Kurds and world powers came out in support of the democratically elected president. A young woman tweeted, “I protested Erdoğan during Gezi. I was teargassed by his police. I think AKP is trash, but I support them against a fascist military coup.” The military declared martial law and a curfew, blocked social media, and shut down the major bridges between Asian and European Istanbul, shown in videos.[lxi] It sent tanks to the main Istanbul airport and shut it down, and flew helicopters over the city and jets over the capital.
The president said on FaceTime to CNN Turk, the most watched news station, that he would overcome the coup and encouraged his supporters to go to the streets, meaning he didn’t have access to a TV studio. Muslim clerics joined him in calling for men from their mosques to rise up and AKP party leaders knocked on doors asking men to demonstrate. Videos showed mostly men on the streets chanting religious slogans: Watching for hours I only saw a few women. Police and soldiers and 1000s of male supporters faced off in Taksim Square where shots were fired. Some civilians arrested soldiers and they beheaded one man and beat several others to death.
Erdoğan said the coup was a gift from God to cleanse the military further. He had already “cleansed” the judiciary of independents he thought were aligned with Gulen, but removed almost more judges. He had already put more journalists in prison than any other country, including China. He blamed Gulen (who moved to Pennsylvania in 1999) and his Hizmet movement for orchestrating the coup in a “parallel state” and asked the US to extradite him. One of my Turkish contacts who doesn’t like the president also blamed Gulen. Erdoğan didn’t refer to Gulen by name in his first speech after the coup, just to the “second estate” headquartered in Pennsylvania. The coup is an example of the finding that non-violent changemaking is most effective.
The government announced that thousands were wounded and over 265 died in the coup attempt, 104 of them were the “plotters.” Some suggested that the president knew about the coup but did nothing to stop it in order to gain more power.[lxii]A trending Twitter hashtag was “Not a coup. Theater” and “And the Oscar goes to…President Erdoğan. He told a crowd, “We will not leave the public squares. This is not a 12-hour affair” and sent text messages asking supporters to keep showing up in nightly gatherings in public squares like Taksim where vendors sell flags and T-shirts with the president’s face. His supporters blamed the US and the CIA for trying to assassinate the president.
More than 9,000 suspects were arrested and nearly 60,000 suspects were quickly detained or dismissed, including 5 to 10% of educators had their licenses revoked, 1,577 university deans, almost 9,000 police officers, one-third of generals and admirals, around 3,000 soldiers, 2,745 judges, 30 governors, plus more than 100 media outlets shut down and websites blocked.[lxiii] More than 15,000 employees were suspended from the Education Ministry, but the president said he will retain a “democratic parliamentary system.” By September, more than 100,000 people were arrested or fired from their jobs, accused of connections to Gulen.[lxiv] The president also ousted Kurdish mayors and thousands of teachers in the southeast, who were not even accused of being Gulenists, and seized about $4 billion worth of businesses.
Amnesty International reported torture of suspected Gulen followers. Erdoğan floated the idea of reinstating the death penalty. Next, he prohibited academics from foreign travel and recalled any of them out of the country. Erdoğan must have been keeping files on Turks he suspected of allegiance to Gulen. He’s been called “megalomaniacal” and “quasi-messianic,” and compared to Putin in Russia and el-Sisi in Egypt. He wants to replace secular Ataturk as the most famous Turkish leader as he creates and Islamic “New Turkey.” Perhaps Donald Trump is in the same category, telling Republicans he’s the only one who can fix US problems and he would be the law and order president, keeping out Muslims and Mexicans.
Watching hours of CNN coverage revealed inaccuracies in the coverage and ignoring the president’s sexism when describing his deficiencies. This is what I wrote to CNN: I flew out of Ataturk Airport a week before the recent bombing, after doing research for my book on global youth activism. Fareed Zakaria said that Erdoğan is secular. One bit of evidence he gave was women aren’t allowed to wear headscarves in universities and public buildings. That’s no longer true, they can wear what they want. He didn’t mention Erdoğan’s campaign to turn public schools into Islamic schools, which is a profound shift away from secularism. I watched CNN for hours yesterday and didn’t hear anyone mention the president’s extreme sexism. Women I talked with in Turkey are vey angry that he said a woman who doesn’t give birth is half a woman, women should give birth to at least three children, women’s place is in the home because their main role is motherhood, they shouldn’t wear red lipstick, etc. His government is mainly male. Turks refer to him as the Sultan or Dictator.
I asked a Turkish contact about the impact of the coup and firing 60,000 people in August 2016: “Many people loosing their jobs has an impact on economy and tourism is already finished. I don’t think we can recover the image of Turkey easily. Not all of them real supporters of Gülen. Gülen is a radical religious imam who wants seriat in all the world, a Islamic world. Government and president are the ones to be accused to let him take all the positions.”
Joris Leverink explained that Erdoğan effectively used the coup to silence opposition including the capulcus, Kurds, Alevis, and LGBT groups; create the belief in the power of the people who overcame the coup attempt; and further his desire to replace Ataturk as the great man in Turkish history.[lxv] The government posted the slogan “sovereignty belongs to the nation” everywhere, along with photos of the president and red Turkish flags, but without references to the AKP party. At frequent “democracy watches” crowds shout “God is great.” My Turkish contacts are afraid to speak out.
[i] Gezi Park video YouTube
[ii] Ali B., “Notes on the Uprising in Turkey,” in “Voices of Resistance from Occupied London #5, Disorder of the Day,” ROAR Magazine, Fall 2013.
[iv] Firat Kayakiran and Selcan Hacaoglu, “Turkey’s Old-Gurard Opposition Fights to Surf Wave of Protest,” Bloomberg News, January 20, 2013.
[v] Firat Kayakiran and Selcan Hacaoglu, “Turkey’s Old-Guard Opposition Fights to Surf Wave of Unrest,” Bloomberg News, January 20, 2013
[vi] Jack Goldstone, “Youth Bulges and the Social Conditions of Rebellion,” World Politics Review, November 20, 2012.
[vii] Stephen Wade, “Brazil Faltering Under Pressure of World Cup, Olympics,” The News-Herald, January 20, 2014.
[viii] Mustafa Akyol, “Whatever Happened to the ‘Turkish Model’?” New York Times, May 5, 2016.
[ix] Yvo Fizherbert, “Erdogan Sacrifices Peace to Entrench his Own Power,” ROAR Magazine, August 3, 2015.
[x] Yvo Fitzherbert, “Kurdish Neighborhoods Take Arms as they Declare Autonomy in Turkey,” Middle East Eye, August 27, 2015.
[xi] Ceylan Yeginsu, “Turkey’s Campaign Against Kurdish Militants Takes Toll on Civilians,” New York Times, December 30, 2015.
Alex Kemman, “Whispers of War in North Kurdistan—a Photo Essay,” ROAR Magazine, March 8, 2016.
[xii] Basak Tanulku, “Gezi Park Events: Various Shades of the Opposition against the Authoritarian Rule,” Urban Cultural Studies, September 20, 2013.
[xiii] Mary Lou O’Neil and Fazil Guler, “Strangers to and Producers of their Own Culture: American Popular Culture and Turkish Young People,” Comparative American Studies, Vol. 8, No. 3, September 2010, pp. 230-243.
[xiv] Basak Tanulku, “Gezi Park Events: Various Shades of the Opposition against the Authoritarian Rule,” Urban Cultural Studies, September 20, 2013.
Gazi to Gezi, 2015. The uprising is told from the point of view of a paving stone. https://vimeo.com/108620724
[xvi] Julius Gavroche, “Understanding the Kurdish Resistance,” Autonomies, September 28, 2015.
[xx] Edrem Colak and Selen Yamak, “History, Struggle, and Class: Gezi Resistance,” a paper presented at SUNY Stony Brook, June 6, 2014.
[xxi] Özden Melis Uluğ and Yasemin Gülsüm Acar, “The Body Politicized: The Visibility of Women at Gezi,” ROAR Magazine, January 9, 2014.
[xxiv] Birce Altiok and Kerem Yidirim, ‘’’Characteristics of Prolonged Social Movements: The Case of Gezi Park Protests,” paper presented at the Contentious Politics in the Middle East Conference, 2014.
[xxvi] Oscar ten Houten. #Occupy Gezi. @postvirtual, 2013.
[xxvii] Suzy Hansen, “Whose Turkey is It?”, New York Times, February 5, 2014.
[xxix] Umut Uras, “Turks Sharply Split Over Protest Movement,” Al Jazeera, June 13, 2013.
[xxxi] Antoun Issa, “How Gay Rights Advance Democracy in the Middle East,” Foreign Policy, July 22, 2016.
[xxxii] Basak Tanulku, “Gezi Park Events: Various Shades of the Oppostion against the Authoritarian Rule,” Urban Cultural Studies, September 20, 2013.
[xxxiii] Balca Arda, “Apolitical is Political,” Interface Journal, Vol. 7, No. 1, May 2015, pp. 9-18.
[xxxiv] Dilan Koese, “Revolt of Dignity,” ROAR Magazine, January 7, 2014.
[xxxv] Fiona Hill and Hannah Thoburn, “We Are Not Cattle: Protesters in Turkey and Russia,” Brookings Institution, June 24, 2013.
[xxxvi] Coskun Tastan, “The Gezi Park Protests in Turkey: A Qualitative Field Research,” Insight Turkey, Vol. 15, No. 3, Summer 2013, pp. 27-38.
[xxxvii] Firat Kayakiran and Selcan Hacaoglu, “Turkey’s Old-Gurard Opposition Fights to Surf Wave of Protest,” Bloomberg News, January 20, 2013.
[xxxviii] Firat Kayakiran and Selcan Hacaoglu, “Turkey’s Old-Guard Opposition Fights to Surf Wave of Unrest,” Bloomberg News, January 20, 2013
[xl] Kemal Kirisci, “Turkey Protests,” Brookings Blogs, June 13, 2013.
[xlii] Tim Arango and Ceylan Yeginsu, “Amid Flow of Leaks, Turkey Moves to Crimp Internet,” New York Times, February 6, 2014.
[xliii] Binnaz Saktanber, “’Cease and Censor’ in Turkey’s War on Social Media,” ROAR Magazine, February 20, 2015.
[xliv] Suzy Hansen, op. cit.
[xlv] Saygun Gokariksel, “Speaking of Resistance,” Occupy.com, August 8, 2013.
[xlvii] Joris Leverink, “Kazova Workers Claim Historic Victory in Turkey,” ROAR Magazine, May 1, 2015.
[xlviii] Birce Altiok and Kerem Yidirim, ‘’’Characteristics of Prolonged Social Movements: The Case of Gezi Park Protests,” paper presented at the Contentious Politics in the Middle East Conference, 2014.
[xlix] Emre Kizilikaya, “Turkey’s Stairway to a Democratic Heaven,” Al-Monitor, September 1, 2013.
[li] “Gezi’s Echo and the Battle for Public Spaces in Turkey,” Global Voices, December 14, 2014.
[lii] Tim Arango, “Turkish Leader, Using Conflicts, Cements Power,” New York Times, October 31, 2014.
[liii] Susan Fraser, “Turkey Teen Jailed for Allegedly Insulting President Released,” TheStar.com, December 26, 2014.
[liv] “1,845 Erdoğan Insult Cases Opened in Turkey Since 2014.” The Guardian, March 2, 2016.
[lv] Ceylan Yeginsu, “Turkey Promotes Religious Schools, Often Defying Parents,” New York Times, December 16, 2014.
[lvi] ROAR Collective, “Beyond Gezi: What Future for the Movement?” ROAR Magazine, January 16, 2014.
[lvii] Joris Leverink, “Turkey’s Radicalizing Youth Dominates Escalating Conflict,” TeleSUR, September 19, 2015.
[lviii] Kareem Shaheen, “Turkish Election Campaign Unfair, say International Monitors,” The Guardian, November 2, 2015.
[lix] Sabrina Tavernise, “As Erdogan Sculpts New Turkish Identify, Turks Look at His Work With Unease,” New York Times, July 11, 2016.
[lx] Selin Girit, Turkish Students Fear Assault on Secular Education,” BBC News, June 21, 2016.
[lxiii]“Turkish Post-Coup Purges Sweep through Education as Thousands of Teachers Lose their Jobs,” Euronews, July 19, 2016.
[lxiv] Tim Arango, et al., “Turks See Purge as Witch Hunt of ‘Medieval’ Darkness,” New York Times, September 17, 2016.
[lxv] Joris Leverink, “Fabricating Illusions of People Power in Post-Coup Turkey,” ROAR Magazine, August 28, 2016.
Transnational Use of ICT
The youth revolution leapfrogged via rap songs, Twitter, Facebook, and satellite dish broadcasting news since 1992. Satellite news includes Al Jazeera TV (since in 1996), BBC Arabic (2008) and CNN Arabic (2002). The proliferation of media and phones made it difficult for governments to censor news. Facebook was used to organize groups, and texting was used to post real-time information on cell phones, thereby bypassing the need to access a computer. A Libyan young woman reported, “Especially during the Tunisian revolution, Arabs, academics, and journalists were saying that had Twitter in one ear, and Al Jazeera in the other. Suddenly, tweets were very important.”[i] She noted that anti-Gaddafi websites multiplied. Evidence of government corruption was provided by videos posted on YouTube and Twitpic, etc., and blogs discussed issues in more depth. Cyber attacks were used to disable government websites and governments used the same tools against rebels.
Only about 29% of people in the Middle East and MENA used the Internet, but the majority of users are youth who access it outside their homes as in Internet cafes. Internet access in the region expanded from almost nothing in 2000 to 40% of the population by 2010, with youth of both genders the majority of social media users.[ii] (By the end of 2012 the Middle East had 23,811,620 Facebook subscribers and by June 2014, 48% had access to the Internet.[iii]) A survey of youth-created websites found the most widely discussed political issues were workers’ and women’s rights, freedom of expression, and of course unemployment is a popular discussion topic. ICT enabled young women to become more politically active from their homes, resulting in the movement for women’s voting rights in Kuwait and progressive changes in Moroccan family law. In Egypt, Asmaa Mahfouz (age 26) was called “the leader of the revolution” due to her online video challenging men to come to Tahrir Square. Tawakkol Karman (age 32) was the “mother of the revolution” in Yemen. Youth goals are secular, wanting freedom and economic opportunity. A pan-Arab youth movement for dignity was created, a reference to the Koran’s statement that Allah “dignified mankind.”
An example of international exchange, on Facebook Tunisians advised Egyptians to counter tear gas with onions and vinegar kept under their scarfs, wear shields made of plastic bottles or cardboard to deflect rubber bullets, use black spray paint to obscure police car windows, stuff rags in police vehicle exhaust pipes, and build barricades. They shared tactics with youth movements in Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Iran, etc. “If a small group of people in every Arab country went out and persevered as we did, then that would be end of all the regimes,” said Walid Rachid, a member of Egypt’s April 6 Youth Movement.[iv]
Using the Internet and cell phones, youth activists can organize quickly and get around government emergency laws about assembly and other restrictions, as they stated at a meeting organized by the Carnegie Middle East Center.[v] The Internet can be used for alternative education and for right-wing causes as well as progressive ones, as explained in Wired Citizenship: Youth Learning and Activism in the Middle East (2014).[vi] Youth consider unions and leftist groups too slow and obsolete, although unions supported the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt. In turn these youth activists were criticized by older activists for lacking commitment to sustained planning for the future. This deficiency resulted in the Muslim Brotherhood and then the military filling in the vacuum after Mubarak’s downfall in Egypt.
Some of the Arab Spring leaders received training and financing from US groups like the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute and Freedom House, all said to receive CIA funding, as discussed in Chapter 1.[vii] For example, some Egyptian youth leaders were trained in social networking and mobile technologies at a 2008 workshop in New York City sponsored by Facebook, Google, MTV, and the US State Department. Egyptian leader Bashme Fathy reported, “We learned how to organize and build coalitions.” Entar Qadhi, a young woman who attended US training sessions in Yemen, reported, “They helped me very much because I used to think that change only takes place by force and by weapons.”
Tamarod youth groups spread in the Middle East, connected on Facebook and Twitter. Guadalupe Martínez, a researcher at Spain’s University of Granada explained that Tamarod members are often young, urban, educated activists united in a movement for democracy active in Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco, Libya, Syria, Bahrain, Palestine, and Iraq.[viii] The Tunisian Tamarod group criticized the country’s Islamic Al Nahda party, accusing it of hijacking the revolution, and the Egyptians advised them.[ix] Tunisian leader Mohammed Bannour reported that Tamarod collected more than 180,000 signatures to influence the Constitutional Assembly and helped get over 34 million people to the streets on June 30, 2013. Tamarod Bahrain’s didn’t focus on petitions but on uniting pro-democracy groups. Libya Tamarod’s Facebook page proclaims, “Revolution is our unity and parties are our division.”
Another example of the pan-Arab youth movement, the Arab Youth Climate Movement demonstrated at the UN climate talks in Qatar in 2012. Of course they have a Facebook page.[x] They chanted “It’s Time to Lead” and “We Want Change,” in the first public demonstration in Qatar’s history. At the same time, a Qatari poet was imprisoned in a maximum-security prison for his poem titled “Tunisian Jasmine,” saying, “We are all Tunisians in the face of the repressive.” His crime was “insulting the emir” and inciting overthrow of the royal family (the emir owns Al Jazeera.) The emir of Qatar turned rule over to his 33-year-old son to “usher in a new era where young leadership hoists the banner.”
Previous Years Organizing Protests
Despite the impression of spontaneous protests in 2011, the previous decade saw thousands of demonstrations, strikes, and protests about economic and political grievances that paved the way for change in the Arab world. The Carnegie Center reviewed these protest movements, pointing out that in Egypt, for example, more than 2,000 “episodes” took place from 1998 to 2009.[xi] Protests were led by labor groups, youth organizations and bloggers, leftist movements, and political parties but not by Islamic groups. Mosques were often the only space to meet in countries that prevented public assemblies, although most youth didn’t organize in the name of Islam. Noam Chomsky stated that the Arab Spring began in November 2010 in the Western Sahara, the last African colony.[xii] Uprisings by the Saharawi movement against Moroccan control included a tent city destroyed by Moroccan soldiers. Palestinian uprisings were also quickly crushed. Chomsky noted that neoliberal policies backed by the US are the root cause of the uprisings around the world and that Latin America was able to free itself from them. The Arab Spring uprisings that had some success have a history of labor movement activism.
A large demonstration was held on February 15, 2003, in over 600 cities around the world against the US invasion of Iraq, generating an uprising of anger in the Arab world. Three young Egyptian men decided to generate a “mindquake” to alert other Egyptians on their website “The Change.” They were inspired by the Iranian Revolution, the color revolutions in Eastern Europe, the Allende presidency in Chile, Sudanese politics and Gene Sharp’s books.[xiii] They were among the first to portray President Hosni Mubarak as a pharaoh and the website hosted music and films. The site evolved into an organization to train cyber activists called the Academy of Change headquartered in Qatar. They provided their first training in civil disobedience to Kefaya members in Cairo in 2005. The leaders wrote free books and manuals on the subject in Arabic and English available on their website.[xiv]
[i] Alhassen and Shihab-Eldin, p. 178.
[ii] Courney Radsch, “Women, Cyberactivism, and the Arab Spring,” Muftah, December 10, 2012.
[iii] “Internet Usage in the Middle East,” Internet World Stats
[iv] David Kirkpatrick and David Sanger, “A Tunisian-Egyptian Link That Shook Arab History,” New York Times, February 13, 2011.
[v] Marina Ottaway and Amr HamzawyMarina,”Protest Movements and Political Change in the Arab World,” Carngegie Endowment for International Peace, January 28, 2011.
[vi] Linda Herrera, ed. Wired Citizenship: Youth Learning and Activism in the Middle East. Routledge, 2014.
[vii] Ron Nixon, “US Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings,” The New York Times, April 14, 2011.
[viii] Ismael Pena-Lopez notes on a conference presentation, “Global Revolution,” ICT4D Blog. October 23, 2013.
[xi] Marina Ottaway and Amr Hamzawy, “Protest Movements and Political Change in the Arab World,” January 28, 2011. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
[xii] Noam Chomsky. Power Systems. Henry Holt & Co., 2013, p. 46.
[xiii] Linda Herrera. Revolution in the Age of Social Media. Verso, 2014, p. 18.
Eric Stoner, “The Role of the Academy of Change in Egypt’s Uprising,” Waging Nonviolence, April 19, 2011.