Anthony Marr's CARE-7 tour blog #6 - 15 Apr 2010
It was two restful days at Ramiro's house, with egrets and ducks in the
slough outside by day, and countless stars above at night. But the last
morning started with a sting. Upon checking email, there was a message from
a supposed ally hazing me for conducting the CARE-7 tour in a "loan
Ferrari", and called Anthony Damiano a "common thug". While my blog #5,
which the person obviously has not read, speaks for itself, Nan defended
Anthony D by saying, "... as far as Anthony Damiano being a 'common thug', I
do not let thugs into my home and make them welcome. He is a gentleman and a
sweet person and we were honored to have both Anthonys here for a few days."
In any case, a supposed zen person ought to remain unperturbed by such
trivialities, so after a polite reply, we simply moved on.
Ramiro came in around lunch time and the three of us simply basked in
each other's good vibes by just working on our respective laptops in the
same picture-windowed room overlooking the marshy field. Good thing he came
in, since I was planning on going the Marin-SF-Hwy101-Monterey route, which
could have taken twice as long as the route Ramiro recommended -
Marin-Berkeley-580-Oakland-880-Monterey - which did bring us to our potluck
venue in Pacific Grove right on time (6 pm).
There was not a lot of people at the potluck, but in this case, it was
quality that counted, in the persons of our two hosts Robert and Casey
Lucius. Without repeating what is to follow in this blog, I called Dr. Alex
Hershaft of FARM (Farm Animal Rights Movement), head organizer of the Animal
Rights National Conference, this morning, to recommend them as new speakers
for the conference, saying that they will open up a new vista for the ARNC.
Alex seemed interested, and asked me to ask them to call him directly.
To go two steps further, I wrote Alex an email, saying,
"Further to my phone call to you this morning recommending Lt.-Col.
Robert Lucius and Lt.-Prof. Casey Lucius as new speakers at the 2010 AR
conference in DC, please find attached info sent to me by Robert this
afternoon. In addition to the info therein, may I repeat that he and Casey
are both personable, compassionate, knowledgeable, down to earth, and humble
to boot. I also met their cat which they brought home from Vietnam. There is
no doubt in my mind that he/she/they will add a brand new dimension to the
Following are the four items that Robert sent me this afternoon:
"Robert Lucius is an active-duty Marine Lieutenant Colonel with more than
twenty years of service, the last ten of which have been as a Foreign Area
Officer, a specialist in foreign languages and cultures. In recent years he
has served in Indonesian and Vietnam, primarily as a military diplomat. Some
of his primary duties overseas included coordinating humanitarian relief
missions involving dozens of public, private and non-profit organizations.
Robert is now the Associate Provost for Continuing Education at the Defense
Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey, CA. Casey Lucius is
a former Naval Intelligence Officer now serving as a civilian professor at
the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. She recently published a book
entitled 'Vietnam's Political Process: How Education Shapes Political
"Their active involvement in animal welfare activities really began in
the summer of 2006 following an official U.S. humanitarian assistance
mission coordinated by Robert to Lai Chau Province in northwestern Vietnam
near the Laos and Chinese borders. During a hand-over of donated U.S. excess
military medical supplies to local village medical clinics, Robert
experienced a very intense personal awakening that turned him into a
committed animal advocate. A man who had spent all his adult life trying to
protect the weak and oppressed among human society became a defender of the
exploited and oppressed among the non-humans.
"He immediately quit the carnist lifestyle and began his eventual
transition to the vegan lifestyle. His transformational awakening was
featured in the Summer 2007 issue of PETA’s Animal Times magazine and in a
2009 book by Judy Carman and Tina Volpe, “The Missing Peace: The hidden
power of our kinship with animals”. During the remaining two years Robert
and Casey led a number of animal rescues in Vietnam, including a young
injured street kitten they named 'Dewi' and adopted.
In August 2008, Robert, Casey and Dewi returned to the United States and
took up residence on California’s Monterey Peninsula, where Robert now
serves as the Associate Provost for Continuing Education at the Defense
Language Institute Foreign Language Center. Since moving back to the United
States, Robert has been active in a number of local animal welfare
organizations, including the Monterey Country SPCA and the Animal Friends
Rescue Project, from which he and Casey adopted 'Charlie'. Both he and Casey
were very active supporting of California ballot initiative Proposition 2,
which passed in November 2008. Robert was even named PETA’s Sexiest
Vegetarian in the Marine Corps in 2008
In 2009, Robert completed a ten-month Graduate Certificate in Community
Advocacy program through George Washington University to learn more about
how to use the power of grassroots advocacy to improve the lives of animals.
This program was initiated by the Humane Society of the United States and
brought together ten other advocates from around the United States. Although
Robert and Casey had dreamt of spearheading an animal advocacy project in
Vietnam for several years, Robert’s participation in the program gave them
the tools and insight they needed to formally establish the Kairos Coalition
and kick-start their Humane Edutainment project.
Kairos Coalition was founded as a non-profit last year with the sole
objective of bringing together public, private and non-profit stakeholders
in order to find common ground from which to advance Humane Education
objectives. Our first project is being implemented where Robert and Casey
served as diplomats just few years back…Vietnam.
"Vietnam is only now fully emerging from decades of social and economic
hardships wrought by the combined effects of colonialism and war. It is now
a nation on the cusp of a major transformation from a primarily agrarian
economy to an industrialized and developed nation. Endless possibilities lie
ahead for this ancient land and its people.
"Since the implementation of Đổi Mới (literally 'renovation') policies
introduced by the Communist Party leadership in 1986, Vietnam has steadily
moved away from a centrally-planned economy to a more market-oriented model
that is increasingly globalized.
"Vietnam has since enjoyed an average annual economic growth of 6.5
percent over the last two decades. It has achieved one of the highest growth
rates among developing countries and successfully raised per capita income
from $220 in 1994 to more than $1,000 in 2008, when Vietnam was finally
removed the list of the world’s least developed countries. Even with a
projected lower growth rate for 2009 (3.9 percent), Vietnam’s poverty rate
has continued to fall to less than a third of what is was in the mid-1980s.
As a result, Vietnam’s citizens have witnessed a rate of unparalleled
economic opportunity and the development of a nascent middle class.
All this, however, has not come without a cost: Industrial development and
rapid urbanization have also helped accelerate the decline of traditional
Vietnamese values by eroding the nuclear, multi-generational families that
have long served as the foundation stone of Vietnamese culture. Young men
and women are moving away from their home villages in hopes of striking it
rich in the nation’s urban centers, while market-oriented reforms have
ushered in an era often characterized by a 'get-rich quick' mentality and
"The continuing erosion of Vietnam’s traditional ethical paradigm has
more than at any other time in Vietnam’s history created the potential for a
moral gap to develop. The Humane Edutainment project is intended to provide
an alternative vision built on the foundations of Vietnam’s traditional
ethical teachings, but which aims to sensitize Vietnamese youth to the core
values associated with Humane Education, including reverence for all life,
respect for the dignity of each person, an appreciation for the fragility of
our shared environment, and the exercise of personal responsibility and
compassion for achieving a cruelty-free and sustainable world. By fostering
curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking, humane education aims to
empower youth with the realization that they can become powerful change
agents within their own communities.
"Western nations are only just now beginning to fully appreciate the full
range of negative social, health, economic and environmental consequences
that have resulted from our collective and individual decisions over the
last fifty years. We are now paying a terrible price for our unchecked
consumer appetites and an unwillingness to look ahead to where the road we
have chosen has taken us; towards a poisoned environment, crumbling
communities, economic malaise and a public health crisis.
Vietnam today stands at the same developmental crossroads where the United
States stood a half-century ago. They will soon similarly face challenges
about the nature of development and modernization, and the solutions they
inevitably implement will have consequences that will remain with them for
generations, for good and ill. We believe that a culturally-relevant Humane
Education program can help Vietnam’s next generations re-imagine the range
of possible solutions to the challenges of industrialization and development
in ways that might be able to contribute to the prevention of decades of
unnecessary and destructive abuse in the name of uniformed and rampant
commercial consumption unchecked by ethical and moral limits. Humane
Education is an investment in Vietnam’s future.
"Imagine what the United States would look like now if we could go back
fifty years and retroactively apply the lessons of the last half-century’s
struggles for social justice, animal welfare and the “green” movement. What
would today’s generations think about the exploitation of the environment
and animals for food, for entertainment or for clothing if they had only
learned a different set of ethical possibilities from the very start, knew
the ultimate price they would have to pay for their appetites and thus chose
an entirely different path? Imagine that altered reality. That possibility
still lays ahead for Vietnam.
"Our coalition is centered around a very well-established Vietnamese NGO
located in Hanoi. IOGT-VN has a decade of experience training large numbers
of youth in interpersonal, leadership and lifestyle skills. They are
politically well-connected and have the respect of the educational
establishment. In addition to IOGT-VN, there are a number of other local
NGOs and foreign subject matter experts that are part of the coalition,
working together to create a Humane Education pilot program centered on what
we call 'Humane Edutainment'.
“Humane Edutainment employs a pedagogy distilled from centuries of
Vietnamese cultural tradition. Employing traditional art forms, such as
puppetry, dance, song, poetry, painting and improvisational theatre,
important lessons about animal welfare, environmental ethics, and social
justice can be conveyed in simple but powerful ways to audiences ranging
from those with little formal education to those who are very highly
educated. During the 1940s and 1950s, the Vietnam Communist Party relied
extensively on “Culture and Drama Teams”, employing this methodology to
effectively propagandize Marxist-Leninist ideology in rural communities. It
remains today a popular educational technique used throughout Vietnam to
reach all social strata, regardless or background and education level. It is
an educational approach that is quintessentially Vietnamese and part of the
shared cultural heritage of all Vietnamese.
"Humane Edutainment also draws from the pedagogy of “Forum Theatre”, a
form of participatory theater rooted in Augusto Boal’s “Theatre of the
Oppressed”. In Forum Theater, audience members are encouraged to stop a
performance, often a short scene in which an ethical dilemma is presented,
in order to propose different actions for the actors to carry out on-stage
in an attempt to alter the outcome of the action on-stage. Audience members
are invited to come on-stage to take the place of the primary actors: They
are no longer confined to being merely spectators of the unfolding drama,
but instead become active participants empowered not just to imagine
different possible outcomes, but to also put them into action by taking the
drama in a different direction than that envisioned by the script.
"Our Humane Edutainment curriculum will address three main themes; Animal
Welfare, Environmental Ethics and Social Justice. We will scrupulously
endeavor to avoid any perception that the curriculum represents the
importation of western values and foreign solutions for solving uniquely
Vietnamese problems. Rather, this effort seeks to mine the deep treasure
trove of traditional Vietnamese values and historical experiences in order
to develop fresh and bold approaches for dealing with contemporary
challenges. This curriculum will be developed for Vietnamese by Vietnamese.
The broad strategic goals of our project are:
"Create greater awareness among Vietnamese youth concerning the direct
and indirect relationships between the choices we make as consumers and the
health of the environment, the animal kingdom and our relationships with
"Recruit and train a cadre of highly-motivated youth advocates to advance
Humane Education messages in Vietnam.
"Coordinate and synergize collaboration between non-profit, for-profit
and government stakeholders to achieve efficiencies of scale and reduce
duplication of effort in the advancement of humane education objectives,
specifically animal welfare, environmental stewardship and social justice.
"Begin to generate the political will necessary to nationalize Humane
Education curricula in Vietnam.
"Generate media buzz that drives public interest and positive public
opinion of Humane Education, particularly through coverage in youth
newspapers and on youth television channels.
"We have already begun adding elements of animal welfare, primarily
wildlife protection issues, to the basic IOGT-VN curricula. By this fall,
assuming fundraising targets are met, we plan on launching our pilot Humane
Edutainment program. This is a new sphere of activity for IOGT-VN, but they
are eager and motivated to apply their significant political capital in
support of this movement. Although wildlife conservation is a recognized
movement in Vietnam, there are zero organizations advocating on behalf of
domesticated animals…farm or companion…and there is much to be done not just
to correct current abuses, but to head future ones that will inevitably
arise if the trajectory of government policies and consumer choices is not
altered. We envision this Humane Edutainment Pilot Project as but the first
tentative step towards familiarizing not just the Hanoi student population
with the principals and concepts of Humane Education, but also the general
public, as well as those key influentials at the national, provincial and
local levels of state government and the Communist Party bureaucracy.
"In its very essence, we are talking about Humane Nation Building.
"Why is this important to Robert and Casey personally? They just has a
son…Bobby, who is being raised a vegan. Bobby and all the children are the
key to the future of this world and all the creatures in it. If we don’t set
the example, who will?"
After the potluck last night, one of those present at the potluck, Emily
C, led us to her place in nearby Marina to spend the next two nights.
Amazingly, Emily, and her mom Laura, are both motorcycle riders, and, more
amazingly still, Ninja 250 riders.
Today, Emily led me on an 80 miles return ride through the twisty roads
of Carmel. Absolutely breathtaking - both the scenery and the ride.
Tomorrow, we'll been head down the coast to Los Angeles. I will ride the
first stretch via Big Sur. Gorgeous pictures forthcoming. Stay tuned.
Anthony Marr, Founder and President
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)
www.facebook.com (search for “Anthony Marr Heal Our Planet Earth”
Touring cell: begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 216-386-7362
Return to Care Tour 7