WHY WE CARE: A few fundamental principles are at the core of every contemporary philosophical and theological system — the inherent dignity of all people, the need for a rough equality among people, and the desire for solidarity and community. These ought to be the goals of a decent human society, but the hierarchical political, economic, and social systems that define our lives routinely create impediments to living these values. The demand for justice — the simple plea for decent lives for all — has to be at the heart of our politics, and that requires critiquing the systems that structure global affairs, economics, race, and gender.


Democratic international law in service of the collective interest of humanity should be central to any vision for a livable planet. The most powerful nation, the United States has an estimated 761 military sites around the globe, military personnel deployed in some 151 countries (there are 193 countries in the UN), a controlling stake in the International Monetary Fund, and veto power in the UN Security Council. Republican and Democratic administrations alike state that the United States cannot be accountable under international law, and the realities of U.S. military and economic power make this the de facto reality.  But why should the United States be exempt from the norms of international law?



Economic systems lie behind the important problems confronting humanity — the ecological crises, resource conflicts, and an increasing disparity in access to the basic elements of a dignified human existence. While there are many economists who examine these questions thoughtfully, mainstream discourse is still premised on the notion that growth is necessary, and always good.  Too often the market fundamentalists advocating privatization and deregulation dominate the debate. An economic vision that can strengthen the public sphere is a key to creating a just, sustainable future.



Although most of the worst overt manifestations of white racism have been eliminated in the United States, we remain a society that privileges whites, materially and ideologically. Wide racialized disparities in all measures of wealth and well-being exist and, in some cases, are growing. Research also demonstrates that unconscious racism in the white population remains a serious problem. Ongoing organizing is necessary to understand and eliminate the ways in which white supremacy is woven into the fabric of U.S. society.



If the term “patriarchy” is heard today, it is typically reserved only for the most conservative and overt forms of male dominance. But it is accurate to describe all of U.S. society as patriarchal, materially and ideologically. Wage inequality and men’s violence against women are enduring features of U.S. society. Men continue to think and act, in ways overt and subtle, that assume they are naturally dominant over women. Ongoing organizing is necessary to understand and eliminate the ways in which patriarchy is woven into the fabric of U.S. society.


WHY WE CARE: It’s crucial to shift from talking about potential solutions to specific “environmental problems” to a focus on the dramatic nature of a global “ecological crisis.” The consequences of the intensification of the human assault on the larger living world can no longer be dealt with as disconnected problems. Dramatic shifts in the way we use the earth’s resources are necessary to achieve long-term sustainability. If humans continue on our current trajectory, the ecosphere on which we depend will no longer be able to support human life as we know it.


Contemporary industrial agriculture — which is dependent on petroleum, chemicals, and mechanization — is unsustainable. Decades of this method of farming have produced temporary increases in yields, but left us with less topsoil that is increasingly degraded. Development of sustainable agriculture requires scientific research and economic/political changes — plant breeding to develop new crops that don’t require high levels of petrochemical inputs and organizing to restore the viability of small-scale farms and alternatives to the corporate food system.



Because water sustains all life on earth, access to water is a fundamental human right. But more than 1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water. Because the hydrological cycle is a component of the larger climate system, climate disruption likely will increase water scarcity and increase the number of people in danger. A growing water justice movement is organizing to resist water privatization and guarantee access for all.



Cheap and seemingly abundant fossil fuels — coal, oil, and natural gas — have driven the industrial age and transformed the way most humans live. As we face the problem that the burning of these fuels alters the climate of the planet, we also recognize these fuels are a finite resource. Their inevitable depletion means a difficult transformation ahead for human societies that rely on abundant, cheap energy. In the face of overwhelming uncertainty, it’s tempting to have unfounded faith in yet-to-be discovered technologies, but we need to avoid this temptation, face the crises, and build a society that relates to the planet in a profoundly different way.



The earth’s atmosphere is warming as a result of human reliance on fossil fuels. Positive feedback loops in this warming are accelerating the process to such a degree that the real debate among climate scientists is over the pace of change to our ecosystem, not whether changes will occur. The planet is undergoing a transformation that will affect all life — how we exist, eat, and live — and our handling of this crisis will define us as a species. We need to alter the way that we, as humans, interact with the planet.


WHY WE CARE: In a society awash in advertising and public relations, citizens in modern democracies need journalists to provide an independent source of factual information, analysis, and opinion. Increasingly, people realize they cannot find all that in traditional news corporate-commercial media, typically labeled “mainstream.” The best of that mainstream journalism is a good source of news, but it has to be supplemented with alternative/independent media, journalism from around the world, and the best of bloggers/citizen journalists.

One of the most common questions we get is, “What news sources can I read to get the truth?” There is, of course, no single source that can provide a completely authoritative report. To stay informed about the world, we recommend a careful reading of the mainstream news media. Those news organizations have the resources to send journalists into the field to do the first-hand reporting that’s essential. Although those mainstream sources claim to be neutral, their reports need to be read with healthy skepticism and a critical framework. Independent news sources, often called the “alternative media,” typically are more transparent about the political framework in which they operate and offer a healthy corrective to the mainstream. It’s also crucial to read journalism from around the world, and there are now many international sources available online, even for those who read only in English. The work of these varied professional journalists also can be supplemented with the reports of bloggers and citizen journalists — people taking advantage of the ease of digital publishing to offer specialized work. A combination of these varied sources can help people understand the world.