Some Sane Policy Strategies, Both Foreign and Domestic, for a Dazed-and-Confused America

The best strategy for insuring a reasonable share of post-war oil is for the U.S. to follow China’s admirable (and successful) approach to foreign relations: make friends with every country; don’t try to control events; don’t take sides with factions by using bribes and threats and offering weapons (all of which strategies make more enemies, while making conflicts harder to resolve); offer apologies as necessary; and spread goodwill by generously supporting, in every country, only open, popular, peaceful initiatives of selected proven-peaceful leaders with broad-based, loyal coalitions.


We should withdraw our troops from Iraq immediately, leaving U.N. peacekeepers to support the transition, and giving thoughtful consideration to all those we leave behind, financially supporting common goals and peaceful compromises, as well as aiding refugees, rebuilding, and easing resettlement (to the U.S.) of all those U.S.-supporters who might be at post-war risk.


We should abandon our war on terror, and support instead an efficient international crime-fighting network, and a peaceful international campaign to resolve future conflicts before they turn deadly. To accomplish these goals, we need to work to end economic injustice/violence, political and state violence (i.e., all forms of war and lawless incarcerations), and the spread of weapons, fully support world disarmament and other cooperative global peace and environmental initiatives, curb violence in entertainment, and aggressively prosecute hate crimes. We should also build a national and global culture of peace through the stated domestic and global initiatives of the proposed cabinet-level Department of Peace ( .


We clumsily attempted to avenge the loss of three thousand innocents murdered on 9/11 by killing and maiming many thousands more innocents (both ours and theirs) on foreign soil, and are now threatening to waste even more lives (both theirs and ours) by sword-rattling in Iran’s direction. We must find a way to forgive others and ourselves, make no more enemies, and recognize and address the grievances of the many who are presently turning from desperation and despair to violence (i.e., “terrorists”).


We need to attend to the real “illegals” in American life—not the immigrants who daily seek respite and freedom from the world’s violence and injustice on our shores, but the thousands of prisoners rotting forgotten in illegal dungeons throughout Iraq, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Cuba, and elsewhere. We must find a way to bring due process of law to these imprisoned and abandoned “illegals” who have been deprived of their most basic human rights, and also end our inhumane criminalization of the inevitable south-to-north global migrants whose only crime is fleeing poverty and terror–by finding hospitable ways to assimilate them into American life.


We must resist the partisan temptations offered by Monica Goodling’s immunity to attack the very culpable Alberto Gonzales, Condaleeza Rice, Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, and other Bush administrative and military bunglers, leave vengeance and blame to God and his horde of very willing historians, and focus instead on uncovering truth, taking right action, and reconciling a nation.


Lee Iacocca recently urged the need for courageous leadership during this difficult time. We indeed need true leaders who can move us past our collective darkness toward solving the real problems we must now face: the ravages of disease, injustice, hopelessness, hunger, greed, environmental degradation, corporate accountability, natural disasters, ignorance, addiction, prejudice, nuclear proliferation, global warming, crime, migration, poverty, war, immorality, cruelty, indifference, terrorism, and yes, violence itself.


All the strategies described above depend upon our growing awareness that nothing we may fear is more dangerous than fear itself, and no weapon more effective than love in all its forms—kindness, patience, understanding, acceptance….  It is not hate, but fear which builds up armies and stockpiles nuclear weapons; not hate, but fear which looses destruction upon hapless presumed enemies, and thus upon ourselves. The Golden Rule–treat others as you would be treated–works just as well in international relations as it does with individuals. Just as families and businesses must learn to accept, respect, and support others (just as they are) in order to be successful, so must all political leaders, their party members, and their followers—indeed, all citizens everywhere—learn and teach acceptance, respect, and support for all our brothers everywhere, all God’s beloved children, every one—if we are to survive and thrive together on our tiny blue planet.





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Democratic Candidates Debate in South Carolina

I heard most of tonight’s debate as I was driving home, but during the hour or more I heard, the obvious winner was Dennis Kucinich. He had the best ideas on both domestic and international subjects, was the most confident, the most passionately articulate, and quickest-on-his-feet. John Edwards came across as knowledgeable, deeply caring, and committed, if political. Biden and Richardson cancelled out their moments of lucidity with moments of politician’s foolishness. Obama and Clinton stumbled egregiously and looked childish and awkward. The potted plant will remain on the periphery. If I missed mentioning anyone else, let such omission speak volumes on forgettability. As far as I’m concerned, Kucinich is the surprise clear leader of tonight’s debate, Edwards distinguished himself, and the front-runners fell way behind.

If We Don’t Welcome Immigrants Like Cho Sun-Kyung, Randa Samaha, Reema Samaha, Omar Samaha, and Cho Seung-Hui…??!!

Once upon a time, two admirable immigrant families, the Chos and the Samahas, came to live in the same Virginia town. Their different versions of the American Dream story both ended tragically on the same day, when they each lost a child to fear, in the massacre at Virginia Tech.


Both families were truly remarkable. The Chos came to America with little money, managing through hard work and long hours to start their own successful business and buy a comfortable townhome; they sent their two children through college—one even went to Princeton.


Like the Chos, the Samahas also made the most of their opportunities, raising three remarkable children all of America now hastens to proudly claim as their own.


Both families made the difficult choice to leave their familiar traditions and lifestyles and the comfortable, similar faces of family and friends, for the chance to improve their children’s opportunities in a new country where they hoped to overcome suspicion and prejudice, to make friends, and somehow to find a way to feel at home.


When the Cho and Samaha children began attending public schools in Centreville, they doubtless met with two very different kinds of reactions. A small number of new classmates no doubt greeted them warmly and innocently, delighted to have a new playmate. The majority, however—especially as they grew older—greeted them with strained politeness at best, and too often, with suspicion, prejudice, fear, and cruelty, having learned from their parents and peers to avoid or outright reject the poor or “different.”


Some immigrant children (like Sun, Randa, Reema, and Omar) are able somehow to find the courage and resilience to take in stride others’ ignorance and fear, enduring such narrow-mindedness without taking it personally, persevering, smiling, reaching out. Some lucky immigrant children are born beautiful, or have pleasant, outgoing personalities. Some have understanding parents who give them time and support. Eventually, many immigrant children win over at least a few of their classmates, no doubt gaining confidence and character in the process, yet paying an enormous psychic price for their pioneering role in the slow and painful peer-to-peer lesson: “I am not your enemy.”


Unusually shy and insecure children, on the other hand, particularly those with “different” skin color, features, or speech, or children who are small, awkward, or unattractive, find adjustment doubly difficult, and quickly become targets of teasing and bullying. With unfriendly treatment too difficult to bear, they retreat inside themselves behind high defensive walls which guarantee permanence to their newfound pariah status, becoming impenetrable self-fulfilling little prophets of their own alienation.


Sadly, the parents of such quiet, introverted children don't always know how mean many American schoolchildren (themselves saddled with their own troubling sets of social and emotional vulnerabilities) can be to all but a select slice of privileged, popular students (with their own sets of pressures and fears) who nevertheless fit rather more tidily within America’s narrow, TV-driven, consumerist standards of youthful social acceptability. Many immigrant parents, like the rest of us, feel simply too overworked to be sympathetic listeners, too overwhelmed by their own challenges, too confused about their own difficult social adjustments, too sad about their own losses, too powerless to help even their own beloved children. Instead, they often tragically ratchet up the pressures on their most vulnerable and fastest-failing offspring.


Sometimes the friendliness and support of even a single individual makes all the difference to a sensitive immigrant. Too often, though, such support is simply not enough to compensate for the many rude, exclusive, indifferent reactions…and worse.


Evidently young Seung-Hui Cho was already insecure early in life because of a developmental speech problem. Undoubtedly, he received a number of friendly overtures which he soon learned to strongly reject.


With a chance for a do-over of Cho’s life, we’d stock his schools with structured programs especially intended for minorities, immigrants, the differently-abled, and other struggling children—strong programs every bit as financially well-supported as the many programs currently supporting our most-able students, such as sports, music, and drama programs, and other mostly-top-quartile clubs. Perhaps within such a supportive program, Cho would have found relevant and sufficient friendship. With at least one friend, maybe two, or even three, maybe a small group to hang out with when times were tough, maybe he would have come out all right. And maybe not. It’s hard to imagine not having a single friend, though.


We’ll never know, and neither will the thirty-two Virginia Tech classmates who will remain nameless and faceless at least to him, because he murdered them in the cold blood of a youth who had no friends, who came to believe that he was all alone, feared and hated, unlovable and incapable of loving, an unwanted “alien” in his family’s chosen promised land.


What we can know for sure is that we Americans–immigrants all, unless we’re Native Americans–along with the citizens of most other northern countries, will be happier and safer both as individuals and as nations when we finally come to accept the inevitability of today’s south-to-north global migrations (from starvation, terror, oppression, war…) as a fact of life–while supporting population control; and when we finally decide together how best to welcome and assimilate all the precious already-living human beings fortunate enough to arrive on our shores legally, as well as the many desperate, equally sanctified souls bravely arriving any way they can in hopes of finding the merest sustenance—or an American Dream—for their families.


Why do we comfortable Americans daydream about acquiring cultural breadth through travel, and yet overlook our many everyday opportunities to get to know our neighbors from afar, who always appreciate christian-spirited friendliness? Instead, we must learn to treat all others as we would wish to be treated, were we the sad wayfarers, wandering in a new land.


Every spiritual leader of every world religion and philosophic tradition has condemned those inhospitable to strangers, and has blessed those offering merciful welcomes. In Matthew 25: 31-46, Jesus says: “’Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me…. As you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’ And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’”





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We Can Prevent More Tragic Shootings

Establishment of a cabinet-level Department of Peace ( would give institutional heft to resolving our #1 preventable global and national public health and safety problem—violence—addressing its root causes, and building a national and global culture of peace.


Domestically, a Department of Peace would heal problems such as bullying, gangs, alienation, cruelty, racism, ethnic and homophobic intolerance, drug and alcohol problems, social injustices, crime, incarceration and recidivism, the spread of weapons, and child, elder, and spousal abuse, through proven programs teaching values, peer mediation, violence-prevention counseling, restorative justice, and other successful non-violent approaches.


Internationally, a Secretary of Peace would partner with defense and diplomatic leaders to insure that American soldiers never march into ill-planned or unnecessary wars; provide non-violent alternative conflict-resolution strategies in every possible conflict area of the world; prevent and de-escalate conflicts before they boil over into deadly violence; ask hard questions when war seems inevitable; and offer a strong counterweight to misuse of military might.


America cannot shoot its way out of a world full of angry, well-armed enemies, criminals, and crazies, and we cannot find solutions to tomorrow’s problems using the same approaches that got us into this trouble in the first place. In today’s tiny, interconnected world, how we treat others will always come back to help or harm us—however randomly—as we have chosen. We must demonstrate the best practices of humanity—or fear, fight, and express humanity at its worst.


We cannot avoid suffering some injustices, as Virginia Tech’s tragic victims attest, but we can avoid adding to their sum. We no longer have a choice of changing or not changing. Our only choice now is whether to change for the better or for the worse. As our forebears courageously risked war, it is time for us now to risk peace.

Battlefields, Monuments, Graveyards, and the Glorious Call to War!

Recent news stories by battlefield preservationists argue that our Civil War battlefield sites are fast being lost to development. All soldiers who have ever seen action, been wounded, maimed, or killed while protecting others and acting on their highest beliefs and ideals deserve our deep respect for their idealistic, unselfish intentions, and for their patriotism and courage. For all these reasons, burial sites of fallen soldiers cut down so untimely and tragically on every side of every war are hallowed ground, and should be treated reverently.


Parades, picnics, and other such jovial and celebratory remembrances of war, on the other hand, are always inappropriate, even though it is true that survivors of war also share happy memories of youth and strength, camaraderie, laughter, and heroism. But even at its best, war must be remembered as a human catastrophe, a terrible tragedy, a failure of diplomacy which should be consistently remembered and mourned only as such. No one knows how horrible war is better than the soldiers who fought in one. Instead of celebrations designed to lighten or block sad memories, soldiers' reunions can be solemn events reminding all sides that every war, whether past, present, or future, is always only about innocents killing innocents, all equally motivated by loyalties, beliefs, and survival. Reconciliation reunions help everyone accept our past collective darkness, and help us commit our futures to personal and global mutual acceptance, cooperation, forgiveness, and peace.


Burial places of war dead, on all sides, should be visited often, and solemnly, by all citizens, who bring their horrified children with them, to show them the fruits of apathy, selfishness, aggression, hubris, ignorance, fear, aggrandizement of power, militarism, hate, violence, and greed, all of which spill so quickly into war. 


No glorification or glamorizing of the terrible decision to go to war is ever appropriate. In the past and future, whenever homes anywhere in the world are subject to predation and occupation, no past glorification of heroism or huge standing army is necessary to raise native sons and daughters to protecting their loved ones with their last full measure of devotion.


Mankind cannot solve the problems created in the twentieth century by using the same approaches that got us into all this trouble. In this twenty-first century, well-educated leaders with high ideals and loving hearts everywhere know that there are many more humane and rational ways to settle political differences than to throw young men and women, bristling with anger, vengeance, and weaponry, upon one another, until so many are killed that opposing leaders are brought finally, by force, to compromises which, except for pride and stubbornness, they would have made long ago, before killing off a generation of one another’s grandchildren.


The era of war is over. War is a social and political anachronism, a relic, a dinosaur, a nightmare memory forever a monument to man’s inhumanity to man. We know better than to use wars now. We know how to avoid them, how to contain them, how to end them. We lack only the political will to insist upon it, and the determination to spread cultures of peace, and non-violent means of resolving conflicts, throughout the world.


We need our many battlefields, our monuments, and our gravesites to some day help us remember, above all else, the monstrous insanity that once was war. One person at a time, one conflict at a time, one battlefield at a time, we are all finally learning to rise above war, and to become builders of peace.


During the 21st century, our patriotic energies can best be put, not into armies, but into changing our own hearts, and changing each culture of war into a culture of peace, by relying upon the many proven non-violent conflict resolution methods available now, for preventing, ameliorating, and resolving the broad range of human conflicts. We all will endure some injustices during these challenging times, but we need not add to their sum. These tried and true non-violent approaches to conflict resolution are our best, sanest, most accepting and most ethical way to share peace, with justice, with everyone upon our tiny blue planet.


Then we can all turn to together toward solving the real problems of the 21st century: the ravages of disease, injustice, hopelessness, hunger, greed, environmental degradation, natural disasters, ignorance, addiction, prejudice, nuclear proliferation, global warming, crime, poverty, war, terrorism, and yes, violence itself.







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