Friday, August 29, 2008

Friday, September 19 at 8 p.m.
Unity Church of Kalamazoo
(1204 Whites Road between S. Westnedge and Oakland)

Tickets $15 for adults and $5 for students. Buy them at the door or order in advance by calling 269-731-4289.

This program is presented by the U.S. Department of Peace campaign in SW Michigan. and

Ask a wise Swami what he’s doing delivering political jokes, and he’ll give you a wise answer: “Because there’s definitely something funny going on.”

Swami Beyondananda, whose favorite yoga pose is tongue-in-cheek, is coming to Kalamazoo on Friday, September 19, 2008 in an event sponsored by the U.S. Department of Peace and Nonviolence Campaign of Southwestern Michigan.

At a time when the economy is suffering from the “Greenspan Effect” (i.e., not enough green to span the average month), the Swami seeks to bring cosmic comedy and healing laughter to the political conversation. Why laughter? Because, as the Swami will tell you, “There’s definitely something funny going on!”

Swami is campaigning to help politics rise to a higher level—through levity, of course. “We don’t need a revolution in this country,” the Swami declares. “What we need now is an evolution where we the people realize we are the leaders we’ve been waiting for. Fortunately, people are waking up and wising up—and that’s good, because we could sure use a good ‘up-wising!’”

In these times where war is too often seen as the solution instead of the problem, the Swami says it’s time to try something new. “If we keep doing what we’ve always done, we will only get what we’ve always gotten. Like spending our energy getting even. What a waste! An eye for an eye only creates blindness. So I have another new slogan for the new millennium: Don’t get even ... get odd!”

And they hardly come any odder than the Swami, whose comedy has been described both as “comedy disguised as wisdom” and “wisdom disguised as comedy.” Just a look at the titles of his books, CDs and DVD indicate that this turban-powered comedian sees the world from a slightly different angle: Yogi From Muskogee. Don’t Squeeze the Shaman. Beyondananda and Beyond. Drive Your Karma, Curb Your Dogma. Duck Soup for the Soul, Supreme Court Jester, Tickling the Body Politic.

Swami’s latest book Swami for Precedent: A 7-Step Plan to Heal the Body Politic and Cure Electile Dysfunction, uses the magic of humor to enlighten, encourage and empower anyone who wants a more just, healthy and sustainable world. With mind-expanding wit and heart-opening humor, the Swami offers a 7-Step Plan because “frankly, we don’t have time for 12 steps.”

Swami is the alter ego of California-based writer and humorist Steve Bhaerman, who claims that Swami first flew into his head twenty-nine years ago. “I was struck by enlightening during a brainstorm,” Steve says. Swami first appeared in Pathways Magazine, an Ann Arbor, Michigan-based publication serving the newly blossoming holistic community. Steve noticed that even if people read nothing else, they would eagerly turn to Swami’s column each month.

In the early years, Swami was a sacred cowpoke, poking fun at overly serious aspirants and the foibles of self-styled seekers. Something about the Swami would let him get away with telling an audience, “There’s a seeker born every minute, and two to take him along the path,” or offering them the prosperity mantra, “Everything I eat turns to money, and my drawers are full of cash.”

Now the mission has changed, but Swami’s offbeat perspective as an “uncommontator” remains. “For years,” Steve says, “people everywhere have been cultivating consciousness and talking about spirituality. Now it’s time to turn the talkie into a walkie-talkie. Politics—the way we make our community, national and world decisions—is applied spirituality. Swami’s new mission is to awaken the body politic to this truth. And what better way to wake up than to wake up laughing?”

Join the “Cosmic Comic” for some serious laughter for serious times. And tell your friends because when it comes to laughter, the more the merrier. Guaranteed to keep you laughing till the sacred cows come home!

The event marks a return of the Swami, supreme master of levity and guru of political and social satire, who incarnated in Kalamazoo in September 2007. People who saw him then are still laughing.

This event is a FUNdraiser and awareness raiser for the U.S. Department of Peace and Nonviolence Campaign in Michigan’s Sixth Congressional District.

Swami will perform at Unity Church of Kalamazoo, 1204 Whites Road (between South Westnedge and Oakland) in Kalamazoo, on Friday, September 19th at 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $15, and $5 for students. A Full House is expected (and maybe even a Royal Flush), so advance tickets are recommended.

For advance tickets or more information, please call (269) 731-4289. The SW Michigan Department of Peace Campaign can be found online at

To find out about Swami’s World Win Tour schedule and his books and other products, visit him online at or call toll free (800) SWAMI-BE

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Be Careful What You Ask For

Today is the 63rd anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima, which resulted in the deaths of 200,000 people. Three days later a second bomb was dropped on Nagasaki and killed another 70,000.

The bombings signify the first time one nation used an atom bomb against another. Apologists for “the Bomb” justify the action because the Japanese would have fought to the death—and brought along a lot of Americans with them.

Col. Paul Tibbits, pilot of the B-52 bomber Enola Gay that carried “Little Boy,” never expressed regret for the Hiroshima mission nor lost sleep over it. In 2002 the retired U.S. Air Force Brigadier General responded to Studs Terkel’s question about whether or not he had any second thoughts.

“Second thoughts? No. Studs, look. Number one, I got into the air corps to defend the United States to the best of my ability. That's what I believe in and that's what I work for.... So, no, I had no problem with it. I knew we did the right thing because when I knew we'd be doing that I thought, yes, we're going to kill a lot of people, but by God we're going to save a lot of lives. We won't have to invade (Japan).

Other people involved in the mission had different reactions, however.

On Tinian Island, Father George Zabelka, a Catholic chaplain with the U.S. Air Force, blessed the crews before their flight and even blessed “the Bomb!” For the next 47 years of his life, he not only had a change of heart about the bombing but about war in general.

In 1985 on the 40th anniversary of Hiroshima, Father Zabelka gave a speech about the bombings, war and the Church’s misguided stance on just war theory. He also talked about how he sought forgiveness from his God and from the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The “father of the atom bomb,” J. Robert Oppenheimer, regretted building his new invention. As he watched the first successful demonstration of “the Bomb,” he reported that a line from the Bhagavad Gita immediately came to mind: “I have become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

There is no argument that the bombings at Hiroshima and Nagasaki ended the war, however, we need to reflect on the effects “the Bomb” has had on the world and on what we have become.

First of all, we must recognize that an American president (Franklin D. Roosevelt) commissioned the Manhattan Project to build “the Bomb” and another one (Harry S. Truman) ordered it to be dropped. Although we tried to beat Hitler in developing “the Bomb,” we must also admit that winning this race allowed us to kill massive numbers of people in the process. Any dictionary would define such action as genocide.

Secondly, the military industrial complex (MIC) has created a culture of fear and a stranglehold on this nation. The military’s needs are pitted against citizens’ needs in a competition for resources and by dangling defense industry jobs in front of people’s votes. The MIC also threatens our democracy by influencing congressional district boundary lines, making deals with private contractors and skewing budgeting priorities in its favor.

Thirdly, after winning World War II the U.S. government decided to build bigger and more lethal bombs. This choice inadvertently unleashed an arms race where other nations followed our lead in playing the same deadly game of “protecting national security.”

The world has become increasingly unsafe with nuclear weapons proliferation. Worse yet, Mohammed ElBaradei, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, estimates that another 20 to 30 countries are now capable—and interested—in building their own Bombs!

The following list the world’s nuclear weapons stockpiles, according to data compiled by the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Nuclear Weapon Archive. It shows the number of warheads each country has as well as the year of their first successful weapons test:

United States – 9,962 with 5,736 active (1945)
Russia – 8,600 (1949)
United Kingdom - 200 (1952)
France - 350 (1960)
China - 400 (1964)
India - 60-90 (1974)
Pakistan – 24-48 (1998)

In 1974 India began developing “the Bomb” but it wasn’t until 1998 that it successfully tested one. Six months later its archrival, Pakistan, tested its own Bomb in order to counteract India’s.

In 2006, North Korea let the world know it, too, had “the Bomb,” although recent negotiations presumably convinced them to dismantle it.

Many people suspect that Israel has a stash of 75-200 warheads, however, leaders remain tight-lipped about reporting these weapons.

Although the members of the Nuclear Club have been dismantling many of their weapons, the world currently has about 31,000 nuclear warheads, according to Nuclear Files with 13,000 warheads active and about 4,600 on high alert.

The United States alone has a nuclear stockpile worth at least $5 trillion, according to Stephen I. Schwartz, editor of the 1998 book Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Since 1940.

Nevertheless, despite all its might, the U.S. military is still not satisfied. In 1997 it stepped up its strategic weapons capacity with Vision 2020. This plan aims to exploit and dominate outer space by linking all land, sea and air-based weapons systems. (It is important to note that Vision 2020 would violate the United Nations’ 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which banned the deployment of nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction in space.)

“The Clinton administration opened the door to developing space weapons but that administration never did anything about it. The Bush policy now goes further [with a weapon-in-space plan designed in 2004]” said Michael Krepon of the Stimson Center, a Washington-based international peace and security non-profit institution.

Last fall, concern about “the Bomb” was immediately stirred up when President Bush said that Iran’s desire to acquire nuclear power could lead to the development of nuclear weapons, which could lead to World War III. Even recent revelations that the Iranians ended their weapons program in 2003 didn’t quell the administration’s “fears” over Iran.

Fortunately, there is a growing worldwide movement to eliminate nuclear weapons arsenals because of the danger they pose to all life on earth, especially in the hands of would-be terrorists. However, most Americans are largely unaware of the vastness and lethality of U.S. nuclear weapons stockpiles, say Sisters Ardeth Platte, Carol Gilbert and Jackie Hudson. The three nuns did time in federal prison for breaking into a Colorado Minuteman III missile site in October 2002 as a protest to nuclear weapons. They also said that the end of the Cold War somehow gave people the impression that the weapons had disappeared.

On this anniversary of our country’s dropping of two atom bombs on civilians—especially as we continue to wage an unjustified war in Iraq where one million people have lost their lives—let us face the question of why we need to continue this insane preparation for nuclear holocaust.

Let us admit our faults, ask the world’s forgiveness and show authentic leadership by dismantling ALL our nuclear weapons as an example to all nations.

The U.S. government’s desire to save the world from communism, terrorism or any other abstract or imagined enemy is misguided, misspent and extremely dangerous. We should instead be focused on the REAL threats to our lives such as environmental degradation, climate change, resource depletion, overpopulation, world hunger and global capitalism.