Quotable

"War is the greatest threat to public health." - Gino Strada, Italian war surgeon and founder of the UN-recognized Italian NGO Emergency

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Be The (CLIMATE) Change!!!

Dear Friends,

Today, Sunday, September 21st is the International Day of Peace, one day each year designated by the United Nations as an opportunity for individuals, organizations and nations to create practical acts of peace on a shared date. During the General Assembly discussion of the resolution establishing Peace Day it was suggested that:

"Peace Day should be devoted to commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples…This day will serve as a reminder to all peoples that our organization, with all its limitations, is a living instrument in the service of peace and should serve all of us here within the organization as a constantly pealing bell reminding us that our permanent commitment, above all interests or differences of any kind, is to peace."

So it is appropriate that today the largest climate march - People's Climate March - in history takes place in New York City, headquarters of the UN. Ahead of the September 23rd UN summit on climate change over 100 world leaders have gathered in NYC, and there will be 2808 solidarity events in 166 countries.

Why a Climate March on Peace Day??? It is the very endless cycle of militarism and war making directly tied to an unsustainable means of existence that drives the war against the planet. Most of the effects over past decades were isolated, and felt by only a fraction of the Earth's inhabitants. Yet now, with Carbon Dioxide levels at dangerously high levels, we are seeing the beginnings of more far reaching effects on climate that will most definitely affect all of us.

We can no longer plunder our way to maintain an unsustainable way of life. And a key factor in stopping the plunder is accepting that we MUST change (for the sake of future generations) and make the hard choices now. Such a huge paradigm shift will be extremely difficult, and yet the stakes are also huge.


Conversion from a fossil fuel consuming, war making society to a sustainable one that utilizes resources intelligently and resolves conflict nonviolently will be a massive challenge. We (the people) have been so acculturated and indoctrinated to accept and support the very system of our planet's destruction that we are blinded to the reality of the impact of our choices on our planet (and all of its inhabitants).

Today in countless cities in the US and around the world people who have removed their blinders are rising up to say no more status quo. They are saying yes to "a world with good jobs, clean air and water, and healthy communities." They are saying yes to a "just, safe, peaceful" and sustainable world.

Yet for the massive turnout for today's People's Climate March, it will take so many more of us to engage the issues that are dragging us down and to change direction. As their website says, "TO CHANGE EVERYTHING, WE NEED EVERYONE."

Mahatma Gandhi once said, we must "be the change we wish to see in the world." May we ALL be that change!!!

Peace,

Leonard
 
 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Refugee (a poem by Bruce Gagnon)

Editor's Note: I first read this poem by friend and colleague Bruce Gagnon back in July. I find myself going back and re-reading it after looking at the accompanying photo over and over. At any rate, this is certainly a poem for our time. It speaks to the madness of the Combine, the Machine, the Military-Industrial Complex, the Kleptocracy... whatever you wish to call it. It also speaks to us as citizens and asks, in a subtle way - "Will we resist the madness?"

*****************

Refugee















We all are running
from something
throughout our lineage
our people ran
from the wild
woolly
Mother Earth
our home

Now those who run
get locked inside
cages
even the babies
from south
of the border

NAFTA took them down
but we don't talk about that
we just turn on the brown people
and drive them away
keeps us distracted
from what Mr. Big is doing
to all of us

Some are paid to
divide and
incite chaos
quite a job
killing your own people
find it hard
to understand

It's Mr. Big's
favorite play
Modus operandi
MO
every criminal
has a routine

Some call it
the Strategy of Tension
worth noting
it's our future
create chaos
and militarize in response

Seeing the coming storm
some run from it
refugees
others stand and resist
as best they can
try to give hope
and strength to those
hiding in the shadows
refugees in their
own right


Bruce K. Gagnon
Coordinator
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
PO Box 652
Brunswick, ME 04011
(207) 443-9502
globalnet@mindspring.com
www.space4peace.org
http://space4peace.blogspot.com/ (blog)

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Desparately Seeking Genuine Patriotism After the Fourth of July

FOR A NATION TO BE, in the truest sense, patriotic, its citizens must love their land with a knowing, intelligent, sustaining, and protective love. They must not, for any price, destroy its health, its beauty, or its productivity. And they must not allow their patriotism to be degraded to a mere loyalty to symbols or any present set of officials. (Wendell Berry: from A Citizen's Response to the National Security Strategy of the United States of America).
Friends,

I haven't checked the news today, although I' pretty sure that our mighty nation survived the Fourth of July. Based on the police presence just about everywhere I went on the 3rd, we were well protected against those pesky terrorists who (as I believe G. W. Bush once said) "hate our [disappearing] freedoms." I hunkered down and avoided the parades and fireworks displays yesterday as I get a bit twitchy when I see the flags waving everywhere in the nation that brought the world "You're either with us or against us in the fight against terror" (thanks G.W. for taking it way over the top). It is not easy when one does not walk in lockstep with the patriotic crowd. Granted, declaring independence from the mother country was quite a big deal in its time, and we do, in fact, live in a nation of democratic ideals. The problem is that there are powerful interests that have undermined those very ideals.

The founding fathers understood the wisdom of avoiding foreign entanglements. As George Washington stated in his Farewell Address in 1796: "The Great rule of conduct for us, in regard to foreign Nations is in extending our commercial relations to have with them as little political connection as possible. . . . ‘Tis our true policy to steer clear of permanent Alliances, with any portion of the foreign World." Thomas Jefferson elaborated, saying that the foreign policy of a free society such as ours must mean “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship, with all nations – entangling alliances with none."

John Quincy Adams, author of the Monroe Doctrine said that, "America... does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own." The founding fathers were unanimous in their opposition to forcefully exporting American values (particularly at the point of a gun). These were no country bumpkins. These were individuals who understood Lord Acton's Dictum that "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Over the next two centuries our nation has all but forgotten the words (and intent) of the founders, and the quenchless thirst for resources and power has led to the creation of a phenomenal Military Industrial Complex and its mate, the National Security State that have allowed the U.S. to impose a global hegemony of unbelievable magnitude. With well over 700 military bases in roughly 150 countries (as of 2013, courtesy of Veterans for Peace), the sun never sets on the Roman American Empire. We have already forced "democracy" on Iraq and Afghanistan, and are working on others now (and they all have oil and/or other strategic resources).

The founding fathers were likely once again rolling in their graves on this past Fourth of July, and for good reason(s). For all the patriotic fervor (and associated drunkenness) of the Fourth, our nation has slumped into an absolute stupor as our "leaders" have squandered the gifts of liberty. John Quincy Adams warned us of this while celebrating the Anniversary of Independence on July 4, 1821:

Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her [America’s] heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own. She will recommend the general cause, by the countenance of her voice, and the benignant sympathy of her example. She well knows that by once enlisting under other banners than her own, were they even the banners of foreign independence, she would involve herself, beyond the power of extrication, in all the wars of interest and intrigue, of individual avarice, envy, and ambition, which assume the colors and usurp the standard of freedom. The fundamental maxims of her policy would insensibly change from liberty to force…. She might become the dictatress of the world: she would be no longer the ruler of her own spirit.

We are, indeed, no longer the ruler of our own spirit. As the corporate-military-nuclear-industrial monster swallows up the world, it also swallows up our nation's once great spirit, the spirit of independence. And so I call upon all who believe in the possibility of “peace, commerce, and honest friendship, with all nations – entangling alliances with none" (as Jefferson said) to recapture that revolutionary spirit of the founders (as imperfect as they were), and declare our independence from the powers of death that go out "in search of monsters to destroy."

It's worth citing Berry's quote one last time - "FOR A NATION TO BE, in the truest sense, patriotic, its citizens must love their land with a knowing, intelligent, sustaining, and protective love. They must not, for any price, destroy its health, its beauty, or its productivity. And they must not allow their patriotism to be degraded to a mere loyalty to symbols or any present set of officials" (from A Citizen's Response to the National Security Strategy of the United States of America).

As Berry says at the end of the same essay from which that quote comes, "If we are serious about peace, then we must work for it as ardently, seriously, continuously, carefully, and bravely as we now prepare for war." 

May it be so on this Fourth of July (and on every day).

Peace,

Leonard

Click here to read Wendell Berry's A Citizen's Response to the National Security Strategy of the United States of America (published in 2003).

Note: This post is a revision of one written in 2009.