“Light is returning, even though this is the darkest hour. No one can hold back the dawn. Let’s keep it burning. Let’s keep the light of hope alive. Make safe our journey through the storm.”
For the record, I was already planning to start with those two lines from a beloved, Charlie Murphy chant before I received my end-of-year newsletter from yoga and voice goddess Suzanne Sterling who started hers off with the same reminder and charge. Solstice blessings everyone. My dear friend TL who I am visiting in Milwaukee, just said that even for just three or four days, he can notice the longer light of morning. I agree. May winter be gentle and cold, but not crazy cold, wet and snowy but without destructive blizzards, and may California receive abundant rain in the coming months, mixed with beautiful days of sun and brisk mornings. Please, God!
Education for a Just World
I am sure that you all have received many appeals from nonprofits than ever this year. I have been donating beyond real reason, each request being so deserving and important. I’m spreading it around. Some people like to give more money to fewer charities. Either way. The number of donors is also important.
I want to encourage you to support Just World Educational Foundation (JWE). I work for JWE now and really like the emphasis of our different projects. Your donations will really help us power up our programs and build a better informed public in 2018. We are building something substantial for Earth Day 2018 with the message that fighting militarism needs to be added to the climate change agenda. I’m hoping we will be able to offer books, on line resources and discussion materials to schools and community organizations for inclusion in their observance programs. I want us to stir pressure from the grassroots so that groups like 350.org and the Sierra Club stop ducking the largest fossil fuel consumer in the world–the United States military. The scourge of war- profiteering must be on the progressive, activist table more explicitly than it has been. If racism and economic exploitation or classism are being confronted, militarism must also be named and shamed. As we also approach the 50th year commemoration of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., we must honor him and follow his example by expanding our field of view from the evil twins (poverty and racism) to the giant triplets (poverty, racism and militarism).
I hope you will help Just World Education in our effort to expose the ties between militarism and environmental harm. Gar Smith has contributed an outstanding resource that needs wider distribution and incorporation into plans by libraries, schools and communities as they envision and create their Earth Day activities.
A cause for celebration, or at least a sigh of relief. Six full acquittals for the first handful of people scooped up and arrested on January 20 in Washington DC for having the temerity to show up to demonstrate their outrage at the installation of Donald Trump as president of the United States. This trial and other cases show just how fragile past gains are in terms of developing cultures of mutual respect, shared dignity, and as sense of common humanity. We’re backsliding even on the agreement that civil discourse helps build understanding.
Other trials remain pending, spread out over months and years, and among several judges. They all are part of a growing tide of cases that criminalize even moderate push back against the control of the tenth of a percent. (Forget one percent! Even 0.1% is perhaps too large a number.)
I hope that Just World’s forthcoming educational campaign about civil liberties and Palestinian rights advocacy strikes a chord for people. Injustice: The Story of the Holy Land Foundation Five, by Miko Peled, is due out in early February. What has happened to these men and their families is a travesty. They deserve our attention and support. It’s another Martin Niemöller moment, people! We’re all in this together!
We Need International Bodies
“To that end, they would like to, if they\ could, to dismantle the UN.” -Alan Nairn, reporter and journalist, in an interview with reporter and journalist Amy Goodman on Decemer 26’s Democracy Now! He went on later to say, “So, you know, the idea that Trump would be less militant was insane from the start. And he’s proving that blood is the tool. That’s how he wants to reach out to the world.” Anarchists and pacifists are willing to fight for international law. I hope people who are less fringe start unifying in defense of the commons…and common decency!
This would be a good time to see how to keep international norms and institutions both empowered and in check. For a lively explanation of the United Nations, Ian Williams’ charming expose comes from someone who believes in its mission and eve the UN itself. Williams criticizes, but respects the UN, and the cartoons by Krishna that are interspersed throughout give it an additional dose of levity along on top of Williams’ own naturally easy going style. Buy good books!
Whither the Anti-war Movement?
I respect and stand with United for Peace and Justice. The groups that share info among the steering committee and working groups benefit from the regular connection created by the umbrella organization. The UFPJ-Activist listserve is unfortunately often riddled with distasteful comments by a handful of people, but sometimes the posts there are constructive (as well as provocative) like UFPJ was intended to be. As a positive case in point, I recommend this article from The American Conservative which makes some fair observations and points about our work and organizing. I appreciate the tone and content of this article and in the comments thread. Regarding this paragraph:
“In addition, the few on the anti-war left who oppose war based on pacifist or religious reasons need to acknowledge that the majority of Americans believe in a strong national defense as outlined in the Constitution. Most people are willing to accept that there’s a big difference between that and the terrible waste and tragedy that comes with waging unnecessary wars overseas.”
Actually, I and other pacifists often argue not from my more extreme position. I try to put myself in the shoes of non-pacifists and pro-military, anti-waste critics, setting
aside my point of view. This activity is a fundamental part of nonviolent discipline and process, to imagine the point of view of the other. I have advocated cutting the Pentagon budget by 15%, 10%, 5%, even just 1% as a way of funding other parts of government that serve people. Really, I think we all would be safer if the in-Defense-ible Department were zeroed out! Instead, the war budget keeps going up even as more and more waste is uncovered, as funds and equipment are actually diverted to the stated enemies of the state, and as proposed oversight is voted down and existing accountability measures are eliminated as though they, not what they uncover, threaten peace and prosperity. Pro-military, peace advocates (Peace-hoping, military apologists?) need to make good on their efforts or stop deluding themselves that being anti-war-lite can actually stop our slide towards doomsday.
I don’t see success coming from Antiwar.com and other Libertarian, anti-war efforts because their vision remains wedded and subservient to profit and greed. If there is a kinder, more compassionate capitalism, it better get rolled out asap before empathy is outlawed as aid to “the enemy.” I hope Ayn Randian, Ron Paul Libertarians can infuse a bit of sober sanity into the Republican Party. I have sat on panels with their representatives. They need to grow from the right, not by diluting or undermining the efforts of pacifists or others. Can they deliver on their pro-market, anti-war ethos? I doubt it, but I’m not the one standing in their way. This is a failure of the anti-war-right…
…and the ignores-war-left, as I was speaking to above about the need for anti-racists and environmentalists explicitly to expose and confront warfare as the racist, “terracidal” force it is. Social movements are so caught up battling against immediate attacks that poor kids are preyed upon by the ruling elite to enlist in the military in the hopes of getting out of a bad situation, a process known as “economic conscription.”
Don’t blame pacifists for our collective failure at making peace. People who see the Pentagon as necessary need to make it less offensive! Hiding its dirty secrets makes us vulnerable, not stronger! Stand by your calls for accountability and measured reductions in arms spending. Push back against charges of exposing our secrets to the enemy (whoever they are). Grow from the right to winnow away their violent strength!
I think we can have lots of material comfort and not be besot with all this war and deceit. The problem with antiwar.com and other libertarians is that they don’t see capitalism as a problem. They seem to trust in the market place even as it is used to steal from people and communities. In the name of the free-market, any success by other means has been attacked as a threat to be undermined and its leaders killed. There are a few good apples among corporations and business, of course, but by and large, the system is a toxic tree. I have eaten a few good pieces of fruit from sick plants, but mostly they’re fruitless, and the plant dies seedless.
I’m a longterm anti-war activist, antimilitarist, even a pacifist. I don’t attack the rights of individuals or individual societies to stand up for themselves against attack, and I oppose the attacker for being on the offensive. I haven’t seen a war that wasn’t based on lies, scapegoating and fear-mongering.
As we enter 2018, I remain charged up by the loving friends I have made along the way. We’re not alone in the struggle. We’re all in this together.