Weekly RESISTance Calendar

Saturday, June 24, 2017

     La Frontera Fair Trade Store is open for the third summer.  The store is at Nopalito’s Galeria, 326 S. Mesquite St, Las Cruces, and is open from 9:00am to 6:00pm every Saturday from June 3 through Aug. 26.  All proceeds from the sales go to the women who produce the products because the store is staffed entirely by volunteers.


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

     Monument Support yet again.  County Commissioner Rawson will introduce a resolution to support the Dept of the Interior’s review of private land within the OM-DP National Monument.  All access to private land within the monument was very carefully designed to have unimpeded access, and the land owners have not complained about the arrangements.  In response to Rawson’s proposal will be another resolution crafted by Sen. Steinborn and Rep. Small strongly opposing any reduction of the monument and its areas of protection.  The County Commission meeting begins at 9:00 am, but this item is far down on the agenda.  Meeting, of course, will be at the county government building on Motel Blvd.


Support for Regional Transit will again come before the County Commission at the county government building on Motel Blvd.  The Commission will consider a resolution to approve the contract with the regional transit district which would mean restoring $350,000 of county money to SCRTD that the commission previously rejected.  Having heard from the public, they seem ready to act more responsibly; but we need to be there to be sure they don’t renege.  Meeting begins at 1:00pm, but this item is far down on the agenda.


General Meeting of We’re In Las Cruces Indivisible will be held, 5:00-7:00pm in the Roadrunner Room of the Branigan Library (2nd floor).


     Public Transit Meeting connecting Las Cruces and El Paso.  A presentation on the Passenger Rail Study will be held at Peace Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall, 1701 Missouri, from 6:00-8:00pm.  Meeting, sponsored by Ngage New Mexico will be bilingual with food and beverages provided.


OLE-Las Cruces Community Meeting at SWEC (Southwest Environmental Center, 275 Downtown Mall) from 6:00-8:00pm.  Come meet with other members of the community that want to help build a better New Mexico.  This meeting will be focused on worker rights here in Las Cruces, such as paid sick leave and equity in our schools.

–Jan Thompson <janthompson0817@gmail.com>



Can a National Culture Go Insane?

V.B. Price

In the wake of last Wednesday’s shooting in Virginia at a Republican workout for the bipartisan Congressional Baseball Charity game, the murder of four UPS workers in San Francisco on the same day, and now a mass killing of five people in Northern New Mexico around Tres Piedras and Abiquiu, many of us are left with the deeply disturbing feeling that we’re experiencing once again another tremor in the spasmodic unraveling of America’s cultural sanity.

According to massshootingtracker.com over 196 mass shootings have ripped through America’s cultural fabric in the first six months of 2017. Huffington Post puts the number at 152. Using massshootingtracker’s numbers that comes to 218 people murdered and 675 people injured through mid-June. And each one of those dead or maimed leave traumatized families and networks of friends who will never really feel safe or whole again.

The weapons used in this mayhem were not rocks or swords or arrows or hammers or hatchets or knives or poisons. The weapons used were guns. We now have almost as many guns in America as we have people, some 310 million, according to the Pew Research Center.

In American culture these days any one of us who frequents a public place, a school, an office, a movie theater, a mall, is a sitting duck for hot lead fired from a gun triggered by an American whose violent tendencies and fantasies mirror our cultural make-up.

Is it a useful idea to make analogies between human beings and the cultures that nurture them? Can we say a culture has gone crazy in the same way we might say such a thing about a murderous sociopath? In the past, I thought that it might be just a metaphor for an indescribable situation, but reading a book by the former president of The Santa Fe Institute, physicist Geoffrey West, entitled “Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies,” I’m beginning to see that when it comes to complex entities like bodies and cultures there is more actual similarity than so called common sense would have us believe.

West’s revolutionary ideas involve the nature of networks and scale. As the book’s description explains: “despite the riotous diversity of mammals they are all, to a large degree, scaled versions of one another.” “Fundamentally, … the issue has to do with the fractal geometry of the networks that supply energy and remove waste from the organism’s body.” Cities are networks of information, energy, and waste removal too. So, basically, are any places humans congregate, rural or urban. While all animal and plant species evolve physical qualities that allow them to compete and prevail in the process of natural selection, all human groups evolve cultures, shared customs, social habits and worldviews adapted to their circumstances and habitats, that allow them to prevail as a group in the struggle for survival. In environments inhabited by many communities the tendency seems to be, over time, to coalesce local cultures into a collective culture of something as massive and complicated as a nation.

Individual human brains have to work perfectly for a person’s behavior to be in sync with the customs and habits of their culture. And I think this is true as well for a culture itself. Its delicate balances have to be working perfectly for it to be in sync with its own worldview. The behavior a culture induces and justifies in individuals can either support the network of moral values and social priorities that allow it to adapt to change and challenge, or it can become radically hostile to those values and priorities and become self-destructive. Individuals can go mad. And, I think, so can cultures. Both end up behaving in ways that undermine their ability to flourish and survive.

Surely a democratic culture in which a large number of its people are paranoid about their own government, a culture which is filled with internal divisiveness and hate can’t be said to be healthy. Add to that the culture’s glorification of weapons and the right to own them that verges on the sacred, even to the extent of supplying them to psychologically unstable members of its national community, and the unhealthy culture begins leaning in the direction of the sociopathic. And if the most deadly of the available weapons are designed not only to kill people, but to kill a great many people at the same time – certainly a culture like that can’t be said to be free of the mental and emotional disorders that, in a different scale, afflict some of its members as a form of insanity.

It doesn’t take everyone in a culture to be insane for the culture itself to start coming unglued and putting its people at risk of being harmed by deranged and murderous behavior. Such a culture becomes like a demonic casino in which jackpots of death are dealt to the unlucky. The customs and values of cultures are meant to promote survival, not undermine it randomly for some of its members. But that’s what we seem to have in America today. We are evolving a self-destructing culture in which its social and information networks are infected with a kind of death-wish that fosters deceit as the road to profit and power, and hate and fear as the primary tools for acquiring political advantage. When the worship of murderous weaponry is added to the mix, our sense of safety, equity and social justice is scrambled beyond recognition.

What can be done to tip the cultural balance away from an evolving self-destruction? I think Geoffrey West gives us a strong if partial answer. It’s all about scale and quantities. If enough people successfully struggle against the evolving madness of their culture then they might tip the balance back to honoring the deepest values their culture still manages to convey – kindness, respect, non-violent resolution of disputes, and equal justice and equal opportunity under law.

What does that struggle take? Fighting the fear that a culture losing its mind induces in the body politic. Refusing to buy or use a hand gun or an assault weapon, even if that seems to have the potential for being personally self-destructive. If you don’t know how to use a gun under stress, if you’re not constantly armed and ready for action at any moment, guns are merely feel-good toys or expensive booby-traps.

Don’t buy into fear as a commercial commodity, fear that sells weapons, that creates political hate, that creates the delusion of safety by owning a lethal device that only a very few people can learn how to use safely and to positive effect.

Individuals both create and carry their culture. A mad culture is by definition a cruel, ruthless, and evil thing. The fewer people who are infected with the fear from which such a monstrosity emerges, the healthier a culture becomes again.

We don’t know what the population tipping point will be to bring American culture back from the brink of total madness, but we do know that what we ourselves individually think and feel matters to the overall health of our culture. And that it is our duty, if I can use such a word, to resist becoming a part of the fear-ridden population that is weighing down the scale of cultural change, tipping us in the direction of disastrous irrationality that could suddenly flip all of us into a well-disguised civil war, or even a dictatorship that merely preserves the forms of our traditional rights and freedoms while solidifying its power by selling fear every day and every hour for all its worth.


To comment on this piece, go to MercMessenger.com


Weekly + RESISTance Calendar

Saturday, June 17, 2017

     La Frontera Fair Trade Store is open for the third summer.  The store is at Nopalito’s Galeria, 326 S. Mesquite St, Las Cruces, and is open from 9:00am to 6:00pm every Saturday from June 3 through Aug. 26.  All proceeds from the sales go to the women who produce the products because the store is staffed entirely by volunteers.


PFLAG Prideweek Kick-off at Pioneer Women’s Park from 9:00am to Noon.  Bagels & burritos, music, speakers, fun for the whole family.


Rally to Defend Health Care to be held at Albert Johnson Park (in front of Branigan Library) from 10:00am to Noon.  Participating groups:  We’re In Indivisible, Democratic Party, Office of Senator Martin Heinrich, ProgressNow New Mexico, ACLU, Health Action NM, Planned Parenthood, and Las Cruces Coalition for Reproductive Justice.  Hear personal stories and listen to your political leaders, doctors, and other health care providers discuss needs in Dona Ana County.  Bring signs:  Protect My Care, Save the ACA, Defeat TrumpCare, Medicare for All, Save Medicaid, or your own brilliant creations.


Support of Local Immigrant Family sponsored by CAFé.  Religious leaders, including Bishop Oscar Cantu and Father Tom Smith, will speak out in support of Francia Benitez-Castano and her family at a press conference at 10:00am at Holy Cross Retreat Center (600 Holy Cross Rd) followed by mass at 11:00am.


Women’s March to Ban the Bomb in New York City and other cities.  No sister action is planned yet for Las Cruces.



Monday, June 19, 2017

     Attend the Las Cruces City Council meeting that starts at 1:00pm in Council Chambers, City Hall.  Agenda items include resolutions of support for the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument and for the Paris agreement.  The Green Chamber of Commerce and the Mayor welcome your attendance.



Tuesday, June 20, 2017

     World Refugee Day.  Let’s work to free immigrants from detention and welcome them to our communities as refugees.  Sadly, here in the U.S., we are detaining thousands of people who should be protected, supported, and empowered to forge a new life away from the violence and trauma they have fled.



Wednesday, June 21, 2017

     Anti-war Vigil every Wednesday (since 9/11/01) from 4:00-5:00pm at the federal court building, Church Street at Griggs.



Thursday, June 22, 2017

     Soulidarity vigil every Thursday from 5:00-5:30pm at the federal court building, Church Street at Griggs.  Stand in opposition to Dakota Access, Keystone XL, and all other oil pipelines being constructed across the land of indigenous and Native peoples in violation of treaties and with disregard for sacred spaces.


–Jan Thompson janthompson0817@gmail.com




SWEC: Battle Brewing over Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks—Again

Didn’t we already settle this?

The Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument has enjoyed widespread local support since its designation in 2014, but Trump’s ongoing “review” of national monuments has reinvigorated the opposition, proving the adage that in conservation, there are no permanent victories. Next Tuesday, June 27, the Doña Ana County Commission will hear competing resolutions on the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, one for and one against. A resolution introduced by Commissioner Billy Garrett supports the monument, and opposes any reductions in the size of it. The other resolution from Commissioner Ben Rawson calls on the Interior Secretary to establish “safeguards” for private lands within the monument, implying that these lands are somehow now threatened. The reality is that the monument designation only applies to federal land, not state or private land, and the monument does not in any way restrict access or use of state or private lands.

If  you live in the area, please try to attend the County Commission meeting on Tuesday (starts at 9 am) and express your support for Commissioner Garrett’s resolution and opposition to Commissioner Rawson’s. The outcome is really important. The Trump administration has specifically said it would check with counties as part of its review.

Please also contact the Commissioners in advance to voice your opinion:

For more information, call Peter at (575) 522-5552 or peter@wildmesquite.org.

Las Cruces City Council to hear update on sustainability efforts

Las Cruces’ sustainability plan sets goals for making the city more livable while reducing its impact on the environment. At its work session on Monday, June 26, 1 pm, the City Council will hear from the City’s Sustainability Office on progress made towards implementing the plan. If you live in the area, please try to attend and demonstrate by your presence, and comments, your support for efforts to make the city more sustainable, including any ideas for what should be added to the plan.

Maybe the Grand Canyon wolf didn’t die in vain

Echo was the name given to a gray wolf that traveled hundreds of miles from the northern Rockies to the Grand Canyon region in 2015, only to be killed by a hunter who claimed he thought it was a coyote. Like many wolf killers before him who made the same claim, the hunter was not prosecuted. That may soon change. This week, in a case brought by WildEarth Guardians and NM Wilderness Alliance, a federal court in Arizona ruled that a longstanding Department of Justice doctrine known as the McKittrick Policy violates the Endangered Species Act, opening the rule for stronger enforcement of wildlife protections. This is some of the best news for Mexican wolves and other endangered species to break in recent memory, and we’re howling with joy! Read more here.


Not a member? Please join us! We speak for wildlife and wild places. We work to protect and restore vital habitats, like Otero Mesa, and endangered species, like the Mexican Gray Wolf. We’ve had more than 20 years of success and we cannot do it without our members. So please join us today by making a secure online donation! Call 575-522-5552 or contact info@wildmesquite.org for more info.


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