Monday, February 27, 2006


If you haven't yet seen Walmart: The High Cost of Low Price, I recommend it. If you care at all about issues surrounding corporate greed, workers rights, womens rights, globalization, and the international economy, this documentary offers an accessible window. It is not a politically partisan film, in fact it is quite patriotic. Real folks in home town settings provide the backdrop for the horrific truth uncovered about the Walmart machine. Reknowned for their appalling employee treatment, this multi-billion dollar corporation is succeeding at strangling "mom and pop" businesses across the US and Canada, while purchasing cheap merchandise from factories where human rights are grossly violated in places like China.

I hope you will take the time to educate yourself about this issue and consider the consequences of what you choose to buy and from whom. This issue is not just limited to Walmart, other "big box" corporations are guilty of the same offenses, but Walmart is by far the wealthiest.

As consumers, our voice is powerful! Let's raise ours to demand more social and economic responsibility from greedy corporations, and to choose local and Fair Trade whenever possible.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Open Letter to the Iraqi People

Dear Iraqi People-

It is with a heavy heart that I write these words to you. As a fellow human being I am deeply grieved by the circumstances you find yourselves in. As a US citizen I am ashamed of the decisions leaders that represent me have made that have caused you so much suffering.

We all know that Saddam was a corrupt and cruel leader. But it now appears very unlikely that weapons of mass destruction were being produced under his rule. Even if they had been, I never believed it was our right or responsibility to preemptively attack a people that had not shown outright aggression towards us (and I want to be clear, I understand it is people we attacked, not a country, or a government, or military coordinates, or even terrorists). Besides, how many other ruthless dictators have we overlooked and even helped to put in power throughout the world? Also, the ridiculous unfounded connection between Iraq and 9/11 is an insult to my intelligence. It is so dishonoring to those who lost their lives on 9/11 that their death has been used to justify a war that has taken hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians lives in Iraq.

I remember the days leading up to the war. I was in a dark place. I felt a compelling sense of foreboding and sadness. I wept for hours. Not usually a politically active person, I began joining campaigns for peace then and have not stopped since. The God I believe in teaches me to love my enemy and to turn my cheek. I refuse to believe there is such a thing as a “just war”. No war is just. Innocent people die. That is not justice.

I recently saw some documentary film footage from an Italian journalist working in Iraq. This footage has been kept very quiet in the US media. In it the destruction of entire villages, and the decimation of innocent men, women, and so many children are clearly evident caused by the US led fight against the “insurgency”. In fact, there is documented evidence of the use of white phosphorus, a chemical weapon commonly referred to as “Whiskey Pete” by US military personnel. Somewhat similar to Napalm, this weapon indiscriminately burns everything in its path. The carnage I viewed was gruesome and shocking. Most of the victims were women and children and the elderly. The hypocrisy symbolized by the US military using such a weapon in Iraq is mind-boggling!

As the wife of a former Marine, I am also very sensitive to the thousands of young American lives that are being sacrificed in this senseless war. I am deeply concerned about the mental and emotional well being of these men and women laying their lives down for an increasingly hopeless situation. I realize that some of them, in their brokenness, fear, and confusion, have lashed out against you, perpetuating the reign of terror you continue to endure.

I will continue to work for peace and true justice. But somehow in the midst of this long and wearisome journey, I simply wanted you to know that there are many of us here that care for you. There are many of us that do not subscribe to the rhetoric of our media and political spin-doctors. There are many of us that feel a burden of responsibility towards you due to the actions that have been taken against you in our name. There are many of us that gather regularly for peace marches and demand answers and action of our government. There are many of us that pray for you. There are many of us that weep for you.

I am one of those.

From the depths of my heart I pray,
Peace be with you-

Tonya Sargent

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Troubadour of Truth

Last night Pat and I celebrated Valentine’s at the swanky Triple Door. The guest artist was Vusi Mahlasela, a South African freedom singer known as “The Voice.” We had previously seen him on a fantastic documentary called “Amandla!” about the pivotal role of music in South Africa during the anti-apartheid revolution. What a treat to have the opportunity to see and hear him live. A few rows behind us sat a fellow South-African songwriter, now Seattleite, Dave Matthews, who had also come to pay homage to the sheer power and purity of this amazing poet.

Vusi’s songs took us on a journey through brutality to beauty. I wept and laughed as I was reminded of my own brief but moving encounters with the people and places of South Africa last summer. But his songs encompass more than the trials and victories of South Africa, indeed they speak to the deepest struggles and desires of humanity.

His presence—his voice—is so full of healing and hope. Here are just a few of the poignant messages he bathed us so eloquently in…

Forgiveness is more about the forgiver than the receiver.”

We are all now immigrants to a global village. Your neighbors troubles are your troubles.”

I can never fully enjoy my freedom until the (oppressed peoples of the world) are also free.” (Here he spoke specifically of the plight of Indigenous Australians.)

Thank you, Vusi, for renewing my hope that one voice really does make a difference, and for giving me courage to raise my own!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Forgotten Emergency: A Report on the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Please visit Global Girl Network to read my latest article.
It represents hours of research and big piece of my heart!
Hope you'll be inspired to take action.
I'll appreciate your feedback.