Everyone Says We Wouldn't, We Couldn't, We Shouldn't Do It To A Dog…. So Why Do We Keep Doing It to People?

I just read Sally Jenkins' sports column in the 8/22/07 Washington Post, about Michael Vick and his dog-fighting choices…. Jenkins said that people who train animals to fight, and then make them fight, are “brutal…sleaze…wallowing in gore by choice…out of sheer dumb meanness…punishing…torturing…battering…killing…enslaving and tormenting…with unnerving ruthlessness…. (Fighting animals is) a bloodsport…barbaric…a gratuitous form of cruelty…a calculating, deliberate and sustained cruelty….” 

If anyone did such things to people, Jenkins says, we would call it genocidal fascism.

No. We would call it military training, and war, and we would perpetrate such crimes without thought, everywhere, every day. We would take innocent, gentle, ethical young men, and put them through military (or terrorist) training, and then throw them into combat, to kill and maim or be killed and maimed, along with their buddies.

We would condition and indoctrinate our soldiers into forgetting everything they’ve ever learned about how to treat other people. We would turn them into knee-jerk mental, physical and emotional monsters, so that they can efficiently “do their jobs” without thinking of their victims as human beings.

After excruciating training, we would turn them loose upon strangers, many of whom are themselves innocents protecting their own homes and families. We would make our young heroes into snipers and bombers and interrogators and other cold-blooded executioners, to do “work” they can do only because they’ve been brainwashed into thinking of whole populations as demonized “others,” as “the enemy.”

Wars are about powerful, misguided leaders taking for themselves whatever they want—resources, power, money, land—by killing large swaths of people. But soldiers are carefully taught a very different kind of morality, a kind of contextual fuzzy logic that ethically “covers” their bloodiest actions for as long as they can believe that they’re fighting, killing, and dying to protect their friends and families, and to further their country’s noblest ideals and purposes. Soldiers cling to the illusion that that their jobs are necessary and valuable and moral, in hopes that their losses and sacrifices are not in vain, that they have not wasted their lives–and others'.

Unfortunately, when soldiers come home from wars, few can morally rectify the gore they've participated in with their peacetime ethical, spiritual and religious belief systems about what it means to be humane, caring, good—all the understandings which make relationships work, and which make life worth living. Many veterans basically go insane for years. Others are unstable or crazy for the rest of their lives. 

Everyone says training and fighting animals is an outrage. We wouldn't, we couldn’t, we shouldn’t do this to a dog. So why do we keep doing it to people?

It's time to reconsider the inevitability of our centuries-old practice of solving problems through violence.  Human conflict is perfectly natural and unavoidable, since people will always have competing interests, misunderstandings, old grievances…. In fact, conflict is very beneficial, because it nearly always points to inequities or confusions which need addressing.

But violent resolutions of conflict only make things worse.

We can teach all people to resolve conflicts peacefully just as easily as we can raise them to respond to problems violently. It's time for America the beautiful, the once and future leader of the free world, to take the first step toward committing to building a world culture of peace.

War Was My Path to Peace

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth…. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy…. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God….

                                                                        – The Beatitudes, Matthew 6


I grew up loving a gentle, funny, talented man who was also a highly-decorated war hero and career military man—my father. Many long nights I lay awake listening to the sad bugled tones of “Taps” floating through the quiet night air of the far-flung military stations where we were posted, worrying and wondering about whether my darling Dad might be called away again at any moment, to fight, to suffer, maybe even to die. My deep respect and affection for this dear man made my lifelong fascination with war and my search for alternative paths to peace inevitable.


But war itself no longer seems inevitable to me. I’ve come to believe that, while human conflict is completely natural, and while our many differences and disagreements offer the necessary challenges leading to growth, learning, and change, violent responses to conflict only complicate issues, making them that much more difficult to resolve. In fact, I’ve come to believe that violence itself, and the fear which begets it, is the greatest threat both to our nation and to mankind.


Rather than a religious or utopian ideal, cooperative harmonious relationships are a very practical goal, critical to our national security. Peaceful responses to conflict can be learned and taught as easily as destructive ones.


The enormous costs of domestic and international violence—to our children, to American society and the world—are unsustainable. The World Health Organization estimates that the effects of domestic violence in the U.S. alone annually cost us over $300 billion. Annual defense expenditures in the U.S. top $500 billion. Roughly 100 million lives were lost during the 20th century to war. We can sustain neither a desirable standard of living nor our well-loved freedoms at such levels of spending; yet the problems we face in a violent, unstable world relentlessly compound.


We can no longer kid ourselves that America can shoot its way out of a world full of angry, well-armed enemies and criminals. Growing cycles of hatred, injustice, and violence increasingly threaten the very survival of mankind, while other serious problems on our fast-shrinking planet go unaddressed.


Establishment of a cabinet-level Department of Peace would be a huge step toward solving our nation’s biggest and most costly problem—domestic and international violence—because despite our many prisons, laws, and police forces, despite our huge nuclear and conventional arsenals, our vast military, and our seemingly limitless expenditures for espionage, we are becoming less safe with each passing day.


Department of Peace legislation would be a unifying, groundbreaking, even visionary legacy for the Bush presidency, because it is in essence a conservative idea, conserving lives, resources, good will, money, health, principles, and values, our American ideals and traditional way of life, our environment and talents, our time, energy, and property.


If we the people don't stand up for peace and against violence, what do we stand for? Peace and stability, both within and among nations, has matured to be a practical mainstream political goal for generations of Americans. What better way could we find to show our troops our appreciation and support for their past and future service than to express our debt of gratitude to them by giving them a Department of Peace charged with partnering with our defense and diplomatic leadership to insure that American soldiers never again march into an ill-planned or unnecessary war?


The common goal of Defense, State, Homeland, and Peace departments alike is to insure peace and stability, even if each has a different strategy for achieving this common goal. A strong military force is considered by many to be a deterrent to war, but without a cabinet-level Department of Peace, political leaders turn too quickly to military forces to resolve political problems, and too easily allow war profiteers to manipulate them into wars of aggression, greed, and domination. A Department of Peace offers a strong counterweight to such commonplace misuse of military might.


Our present approach to national defense is not working. We’re strong in conventional military operations, but weak in alliance-building (win-win negotiations and diplomacy) and very weak in the use of the many innovative, well-tested non-violent peace-building technologies used so successfully by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Gandhi, and other peaceful non-violent activists around the world.


A Secretary of Peace can nurture a growing culture of peace both nationally and internationally, partnering with the President and his cabinet to provide necessary alternative non-violent conflict-resolution strategies for every possible conflict area in the world, asking hard questions when war seems inevitable, and preventing, reducing, ameliorating, and de-escalating conflicts before they boil over into deadly violence.


Domestically, a Department of Peace can support and strongly disseminate best practices originating in neighborhood and faith-based programs, addressing drug and alcohol problems, crime, incarceration and recidivism, the spread of weapons, school bullying and violence, gangs, racism, ethnic and homophobic intolerance, child, elder, and spousal abuse, and other pressing domestic violence problems, through proven programs of peer mediation, violence-prevention counseling, restorative justice, and other successful non-violent approaches.


Like other past social grass-roots protest movements (e.g., civil rights, women’s suffrage, emancipation of slaves, etc.) non-violent peace-building may not have seemed obvious at first. But there is no reason why the long-held American dream of “peace in our time” should not be the business of a government charged with insuring domestic tranquility, a more perfect union, justice, the common defense, the general welfare, and the blessings of liberty.


We no longer live in our fathers’ world. We cannot find solutions to tomorrow’s problems using the same approaches that got us into trouble in the first place. In today’s small, interconnected world, what we do to others comes back quickly to help us or to harm us, as we have chosen. As in WWII, we cannot avoid suffering some injustices, but we canavoid 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. Our fathers once risked war; it is time for us to risk peace.


(Please read about H.R. #808, establishing a Department of Peace, at www.dopcampaign.org, and let your members of Congress know where you stand.)



Please send comments to njcpace@epharmony.com . Thx 🙂








Is Islamic Extremism ‘the Problem’? Is Endless War ‘the Answer’? How Can We Stop Terrorism?

We can’t just turn the other cheek to angry Islamic extremists, and we can’t fight an endless, economy-breaking, un-winnable war against terrorists either. Talk show simpletons say “just nuke ‘em all,” but even President Bush admits that America must “change the conditions that moved nineteen kids to come on airplanes to murder our citizens.”


And we’d be upset too, if Islamic nations had done to our country what we’ve done to them. To the world’s Muslims, our attacks have not been isolated incidents, but part of a long chain of conspiracies in a war upon Islam itself.


Western powers have indeed killed and wounded millions of Muslims during the last century, blighting their livelihoods and dreams with little consideration for justice, political freedom, and tolerance. Most of us in the West aren’t even aware of this tragic history of Western interference in Islamic nations. Our mainstream press has tiptoed around topics unpopular with their corporate sponsors, and TV and radio send out a torrent of xenophobia from reckless demagogues portraying Islam as a destructive ideology that has brought all its problems upon itself.


Americans express outrage at attacks on American soldiers, but turn a deaf ear to the pleas of millions of Iraqi war refugees desperate for asylum from our wars. We express indignation when an Israeli dies, but can’t be bothered to count—much less mourn—the untold Muslim victims of our Middle East wars. This double standard would shock us if the oceans of propaganda we swim in daily did not prevent our awareness of it.


Terrorism, like war, is a continuation of politics “by other means.” Grieving and jobless Muslim youth “join up” with terrorist forces in hopes of prevailing against regional and international foes, just as American youths patriotically join the armed services to donate their young bodies in service to their government’s many goals, and end up killing innocent strangers, or dying, or being maimed, only for the mercenary protection and expansion of far-flung corporate/economic interests.


Our country has never been invaded by Muslims, nor, credibly, by anyone else. We spend an annual military budget larger than the next fourteen largest nations combined–in total, 45% of the entire military spending in the whole world–on attacks on and within the homelands of foreigners who have never come anywhere near our homes. We have over 600 military bases all over the world. All this pretense of “defense” of America…even though former Secretary of State Madeline Albright guilelessly admitted after 9/11 that “…’homeland security’ is something people hadn’t really thought of before.”


For years, we’ve been instructed that our wars against Islam were fought defensively in response to 1400 years of aggressions in adherence to obscure Islamic scriptures urging global conquest and the spread of Islam by the sword. Few Americans realize that the Crusades were an unimaginably cruel and bloody centuries-long Western invasion of Islamic lands, or that for more than three hundred years, English adventurers penetrating Middle Eastern society have drawn up elaborate plans for assuming control through colonization, plans later pursued by a newly imperialistic America.


Some think our attacks on Islam well-intentioned—i.e., we hope to save misguided Muslims from themselves—so blind are we to the failings of our own brash young culture, and to the glories and losses of ancient Islamic ones. Of course Muslims/Arabs long for many changes of various kinds—but only those changes which arise from their own efforts, not from external interference, and certainly not from foreign aggressors. Americans wouldn’t appreciate foreign occupiers telling us how to live either. Different cultures with long separate traditions and histories, with different assumptions about values, beliefs, practices and ideals, have no business forcing themselves on other cultures. Many Muslim women, for instance, await the day they can move about more freely without their coverings; nevertheless, without exception, there are no Muslim women who want strangers to come from far away to shoot their fathers, sons and brothers in order to secure their “rights” for them.


In today’s brave new world of the internet, freedom of information is no longer a luxury, but a requirement for economic growth—so change will come to every remote corner of the globe, faster than puny humanity can thoughtfully adapt to it. The important question is not “Will things change?” but “How will things change?” While some people will always be more resistant to change than others, change will come to everyone, everywhere, inevitably. No one can stop it. We will all ultimately influence one another, for the better or for the worse, as we choose.


As long as we strove to live up to our ideals, America was a beacon to the world, effectively marketing our highest values of freedom and human rights worldwide. However, since we’ve begun to rely primarily upon our military, and not our moral strength during the last century, since we have used our might primarily to support the greedy ambitions of unscrupulous corporate profiteers, we have temporarily lost our persuasive influence for positive international change.


We now have only a “shrewd” Secretary of State who refuses dialogue with opposing states, and who bribes and bullies our nervous “allies” into tolerating our unfair international practices. Where is our strong, cabinet-level U.S. Department of Peace, promoting global peace and harmony? Where are our official national ambassadors of compassion and justice, sharing our expertise, riches and good will with all nations and all peoples? How do the puny efforts grounded in our highest patriotic and religious ideals and heritage stack up against our unlimited expenditures for endless war?


The literate class in the Muslim world certainly blames the U.S. for oppressing Muslim states. As cruelly and certainly as war kills both body and spirit, so do economic and political exploitations kill, maim and warp lives. Western nations have been meddling politically, financially and militarily throughout the twentieth century, repressing democratic movements and political freedoms throughout all Arab nations, propping up Western-friendly dictators, failing to promote good governance and economic advancement, and neglecting to address rapidly-changing social, demographic and economic developmental challenges. Islamic extremism will continue to thrive until Muslim youth everywhere are offered real hope of political and economic improvements.


During the twentieth century, U.S.-based international corporations backed by powerful military forces reliably insured a steady flow of oil westward at bargain basement prices, while suppressing the economic development and progress of the countries which owned that finite, precious resource. Increasingly, our goal has been military and economic hegemony in the Middle East, by way of incursions into Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Syria, Israel/Palestine, Somalia, Western Sudan, Kashmir, the Philippines, Bosnia, Chechnya, Assam, and East Timor. Besides fighting to insure “our” cheap, reliable oil “supply,” we’ve insisted on favorable trade advantages, prevented the spread of nuclear weapons (with the exception, of course, of our own thousands of weapons, and those of our allies) and supported and protected our friend Israel, in part because such support offers us a conveniently aggressive military wedge/base into the Middle East.


Angry Muslims believe that we want to weaken and divide the Arab world, shake the foundations of Islamic belief, and dismantle the structures of Muslim society—their culture, traditions, and their approaches to justice, government, rights, and freedom, however controversial. They believe we want to lead their young people astray, control and limit their use of and profit from their resources, and emasculate and neutralize all opposition to our agenda by spreading our competing western values and influence.


Many Muslims believe that we in the West very much want to keep their countries backward, afflicted, poor and miserable, so we can more easily exploit their riches—their oil, land and human resources. They attribute America’s historical political and economic success not to a morally, economically and politically superior system of government, but to a two-hundred year exploitation of the richest swath of virgin territory and resources that the world has ever known, on the backs of slaves and slaughtered Native Americans, using a form of government primarily supportive of the growth of wealth (the U.S. was originally settled by capitalist business ventures in Jamestown, Plymouth, etc.) and backed up by a growing military force which turned next to support for similar profitable exploitations in the third world.


The West’s war against Islam is considered criminally immoral by the millions of peaceful/innocent non-“enemy” Muslims who have been the “collateral damage” of western aggressions. Like Americans, Arabs have the right to keep and/or sell their resources whenever and at whatever price they prefer. They feel their only hope is to resist and endure Western onslaughts until their undeserved suffering redemptively earns them international sympathy and respect—and/or breaks the American economy—as their resistance broke the national economies of the late great Soviet and British empires.


Muslims pray that the U.S. will lose their political will for unending war, that media backlash from our allies will eventually convince us of endless war’s tragic and wasteful effects. A survey of 47 major nations by Pew Research recently demonstrated that “global public opinion (is) increasingly wary of the world’s dominant nations (and) disapproving of their leaders. Anti-Americanism is extensive, as it has been for the past five years…. Global support for the U.S.-led war on terrorism is shrinking, and distrust of American leadership and foreign policy is growing. Not only is there worldwide support for a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, but there also is considerable opposition to U.S. and NATO operations in Afghanistan.”


The biggest problem with fighting an endless war on terrorism is that such a war does nothing at all to resolve the terrorist problem, while creating more terrorists. Wars on terrorism are wars no one wins and everyone loses.


Nevertheless, U.S. war profiteers continue to press for expanded wars throughout the Middle East and elsewhere, opportunistically portraying Islam not as a peaceful religion practiced variously by a billion people, not as a tolerant, moderate, ancient faith with a rich tradition of scholarship, compatible with political democracy and religious pluralism, but instead, as a fundamentalist terrorist cult different from all other religions in its aggressive global political agenda, solely responsible for atrocities, civil wars, attacks on Americans, the 9/11 tragedy, and for disgusting practices such as stonings and beheadings–an “evil religion” deserving of annihilation by “the pure gospel of Jesus Christ.”


Stereotypes of Islam as a monolithic religion predisposed to violence simplify the realities of a complex, multi-faceted religion. Some Islamists, like some fundamentalist Christians, pervert what is in essence a peaceful religion, through violent cults bent on universal conversion and conquest—but we can’t blame the whole of either Islam or of Christianity for such aberrations. As in Christianity, there is simply too much diversity within Islam, which has its own versions of Jesus Freaks and criminally violent cults, but also its spiritual mystics and its vast majority of family-centered, civic-minded, peaceful—if very human—communities. As with Christianity, the educated (or uneducated) conscience of each individual Muslim determines his interpretation about “what is Islam” and what is “true Muslim practice.” Like Christians, Muslims can find congregations and leaders who support just about any strain of peaceful or reactionary religious practice, in both secular and Islamic societies.


Millions of Christians currently live in Arab countries, sharing very much the same culture as their Muslim counterparts, just as Muslims in America share much of our American culture. Unarguably, some Muslim leaders are intransigent and fearful, and some fundamentalist Muslims are as crazy as loons—just like some of our own crazy leaders and fundamentalist Christians, who would nuke whole Arab nations right now. But just because each culture has its crazies doesn’t give anyone the right to attack all Christians or all Muslims in “self-defense.” No society can prevent all senseless, tragic injustices, but we do not have to add to their sum.


Some Muslims believe an Islamic state best-suited to achieving Islamic ideals, just as Americans are partial to their own familiar political systems–however imperfect all these political systems are. Some Muslims see Al-Qaeda jihadists as legitimate martyrs, just as we honor the sacrifices and good intentions of our own fallen soldiers even when their wars are discredited. Some Muslims believe stoning and beheading to be true Islamic practices, just as some of our own Christians sects still practice exorcism, voodoo and other bloody or satanic rituals. Most otherwise-peaceful Christians would react violently if America were invaded, just as, during wartime in Arab lands, otherwise-peaceful sects react with what appears to be religiously-inspired violence, making it difficult to consistently distinguish among essentially peaceful groups.


Religion can be misused in any land, whether Christian or Jewish or Muslim—to win votes, to gain political power and control, to further various nationalist and ethnic motives. Just as political electioneering in America relies upon familiar, emotion-stirring patriotic and Judeo/Christian words and images, politics in Arab lands come clothed in the garb of Islam. Like our own neoconservative opportunists, radical Islamic opportunists urge their political ideologies and associated plans—whether for a utopian future embracing Sharia law and rejecting secularism and all things foreign, or for world domination and a global empire run by international corporations—all these unscrupulous politicians (whether clerical or secular) urge their dark visions using religion as a motivator for change, and not the other way around.


In their worst forms, both Islam and Christianity encourage violence and persecution. At best, both are cooperative, tolerant religions. Surprisingly, within contemporary American society, Muslims often seem to be almost more christian than Christians, since modern Christianity has stripped down (to the distress of some and the satisfaction of others) under the influences of modern media, academia and consumer economics to the two primary commandments of “love God and love your neighbor”—while encouraging widely varying interpretations about what these two commandments might mean.


Like most traditional Christian congregations, most American Muslim congregations resist the blandishments of Western media and money which are making so many inroads into modern Christian lifestyles. Most Muslim congregations in America remain deeply devoted to traditional moral principles and values, to avoidance of evaluating people on the basis of what they produce and consume, and—for better or worse—to clearly-defined gender expectations, including a firm rejection of sodomy, pornography, gay lifestyles, abortion and birth control. American Muslims also strongly commit to generous giving, to volunteerism, large families, and to other related traditions embraced by many Christians. Islam’s firm resistance to the biblically-forbidden practice of usury (lending at interest) has long remained a thorn in the side of American capitalists.


Some Christians are concerned that American Muslims will parlay their success in resisting modern/Western temptations in order to lure new converts from Christianity, and thus conquer the West via a sort of stealth attack through immigration without assimilation. Unfortunately, such paranoia is often stoked by demagogic Christian ministers fearful of losing their congregations (and their livelihoods), pastors who might better serve their flocks, their Saviour, and God by trusting in them and turning their examples and service toward higher, more inclusive, more loving goals.


If we stop “warring” on terrorism, we can still firmly resist the crime of terrorism wherever it occurs in the world, by partnering with criminal justice organizations in all governments, most especially those in need of our good example and support.


The very best way to reverse Islamic terrorism, though, is step-by-step, the same way it was created, by reversing the causes of anti-Americanism and extremist violence. Step-by-step, we can move away from a foreign policy of violence-based international competition toward one embracing non-violent global cooperation. Neither approach to ending terrorism is simple, obvious or guaranteed. But only one has any chance of succeeding.


Our first step can be to recognize Islam’s highest priority, after the practice of their faith: to repel aggressors whom they fear will corrupt their religion or Muslim way of life. Out of respect for this principle, Western powers can withdraw their unwelcome pressure and influence along with their troops, and attend instead to the business and pleasure of dwelling and working in Islamic lands, as polite, invited guests respectful of different cultures and traditions.


We can find ways to work against religious and ethnic xenophobia, educating ourselves about historic predations in Arab lands, and promoting understanding and acceptance of Islamic perspectives.


A change of heart toward Islam can support expenditures for reparations to Iraqis and other injured parties, which will go a long way toward rebuilding good will and positive relationships among nations.


We can expand our diplomatic missions to so-called “hostile” nations, spending the money freed from foreign wars on more diplomacy and open dialogue, which will increase mutual understanding and respect, and diminish the likelihood of future wars.


We can demonstrate our good will by welcoming Iraqi refugees into the U.S., helping them create peaceful Muslim communities, and integrate into American civic life.


We can reform our own political system so that the will and welfare of the people can be heard above the demands of big business, the wealthy, corporations, lobbyists, and the military-industrial complex.


We can offer our generous support across the world only for indigenous, peaceful, representative political movements and leaders, whether or not they follow our familiar western parliamentary and constitutional models. We can promote dialogue and better understanding with regional and national organizations which have turned to violence under the pressure of wars and occupations, and together find peaceful, just solutions to conflicts.


We can work together to reduce the spread of nuclear and conventional weapons, first reducing our own to provide a convincing example.


We can purchase land in exchange for peace in Israel/Palestine, and offer our financial assistance only to peaceful leaders on all sides who reject the politics of fear and violence, who respect all ancestries, beliefs, and traditions, and who embrace inclusivity and equitability.


We can work toward respectful, peaceful, just and equitable trade relations with all nations.


We can build good will by respecting local ownership of resources, and offer our principled support in resolving problems of development, production and distribution.


We can work to redirect and downsize our military forces to those necessary only for homeland defense, reduce the global spread of arms, and end the global influence of our own home-grown American military/industrial complex.


We can generously fund the establishment and stated goals of the proposed cabinet-level U.S. Department of Peace


We can reform and rebuild the U.N. into a universally trusted and respected world body, effective in furthering its noble goals.


We can fully fund national peacekeeping armies to work with the U.N. to prevent the rise of national and regional military powers, wars of aggression, war crimes, and violent interferences with the sovereignty of nations.


We can create a U.S. military health system, a sort of national Doctors Without Borders, maintaining its readiness for national emergencies (such as acts of terrorism, pandemics, natural disasters, and military invasions) by sending it everywhere else on the globe where such emergencies may occur.


We can support the most-cherished projects of the peoples of all nations whom we have formerly distrusted, misunderstood, and feared.


We can work together to build a world culture of peace and non-violent conflict resolution, a culture that fits comfortably within all religious and secular systems, that is tolerant of all religions and ideologies, that can be gradually institutionalized into international law, universally taught, and culturally supported through exchanges.


Please send your comments to njcpace@gmail.com . Thx! 🙂







Lick ‘Em or Join ‘Em? Predictions and Warnings About Republican and Democratic Campaign Strategies for 2008

I predict that unscrupulous and frightened campaign schemers and strategists within the Republican Party (such as Karl Rove) will convince their followers of the necessity of focusing the 2008 presidential campaign on xenophobia—fear of outsiders. Like all good fascists throughout history, they’ll find themselves “reluctantly forced” to flood the airwaves and internet with compelling commercials, “information,” “news stories,” “facts” and “statistics,” convincing a nervous American public that the only thing standing between “us” and a fatal, up-close-and-personal, all-out collision with a horde of terrible “others” so not-like-us as to be sub-human, is to vote Republican.


Unless the Democratic party immediately plans strong opposing strategies to defang and declaw this deep-pocketed “terrorize and divide” media onslaught before it “takes,” Republicans—and the corporatocracy—will win in ‘08. They have already begun their incessant, highly effective drumbeat of fear.


Right-wing talk-show extremists—politicians, preachers, “experts,” business leaders—terrorists all—are already terrorizing the public with their visions of danger, scarcity, and death, hammering their variations on their single essential theme: “If you don’t vote Republican, you and your loved ones, sooner than you think, will be left alone to live and die, poor and horribly, because of  “outsiders.’”


A host of demagogic hacks have already been at it for quite some time, arguing their “common-sense practicalities” of greed and hate, urging the xenophobic exclusion, rejection, marginalization, and dehumanization of Muslims, “illegals,” many legal immigrants, all non-English speakers, non-Christians, “strange people,” “different” people, foreigners in general, and non-traditional Americans in particular—that is, everyone they want us to fear and hate, especially those whose national resources the corporatocracy covets.


Presenting themselves as tough-guy loners and unselfish freedom-fighters, they glamorize pre-emptive, retaliatory, and vengeful violence, justify torture, cruelty, and state terrorism, and rationalize putting the constitution on hold. They talk about our ever-more sadistic, cruel, irrational new adversaries, and invent new even-badder-guys (to keep war profiteers smiling) whenever the terrifying old enemies (whether the Krauts, Japs, Reds, Gooks, Slopes, Ragheads, terrorists, etc.…) no longer terrify.


Americans are increasingly urged by such effective and costly advertising to join whatever shaky, convenient and temporary political alliances-of-the-day can be scraped up, to fight pointless no-holds-barred trillion-dollar wars against everyone-not-like-us who is trying to steal “our” (Middle-Eastern, African, South American, East Asian…) oil, gold, plutonium, copper, etc.


We’re incessantly warned of the imminent dangers of diversity—the perils that follow welcoming foreigners, the menaces lurking in helping the poor, the risks inherent in sharing our neighborhoods and lives with those of different colors, religions, political beliefs, traditions, heritages, nationalities, and ethnicities.


We’re urged to wedge ourselves, however inappropriately and temporarily, within the fat-cat Republican-insider club, in hopes of staying alive and safe for at least a little while longer within their smug, prosperous ranks. They’ll meanwhile insist that we also embrace every political decision that widens the gap between haves and have-nots, and that promotes the interests of the wealthy at the expense of “them”—that is, “us”—while urging us, one more time, to look away in fear from the real political issues that matter most to people everywhere, the issues without borders, for at least just long enough for the Republicans to be re-elected for four more catastrophic years.


Yes, Virginia, there really are some very bad terrorists out there, and not a few of them are currently holding top positions in the Republican Party.


One of the toughest sub-plots in planning an effective, pre-emptive anti-fear campaign strategy to carry us through the 2008 campaign will be making our message of unity and inclusiveness so convincing and compelling that it will win over even current Republican leaders and gather them back into our forgiving, accepting fold, along with the rest of the world’s lost lambs. Yes, that means even Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, and George Bush….


Most of the complexity and confusion in politics these days arises from misunderstandings about a competitive concept of “us” and “them.”
There is no “them.” There is only “us.”
Barack Obama is right about Hillary’s foreign policy: it’s a rehash of the same-old Bush/Cheney fear-and-greed nonsense, the same tired politics of in-crowds fighting to hold back the great-unwashed.
Unfortunately, too many of us still warily regard ourselves as alone and under attack in the world, when in reality, we are all one, a big happy eternal family, inseparable parts of a spiritual whole, even though we often don't recognize this truth. The great-unwashed are not “them;” they are “us,” and cannot be held back, nor should they be. When parts of our family can’t go much longer without food, when they need energy to stay warm or cool and to move their bodies to necessary places, when we feel separated at the level of basic needs of physical organisms, then we need national political leaders like Mandela, Gandhi and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who see us all as one, who represent all of “us,” who can lead all people everywhere to deeper recognition of their wholeness.
Even the “haves” today are coming reluctantly to realize they can no longer hide behind their bodyguards, or the gates of private schools and guarded enclaves, because technology has shrunk our planet down to a marble. The world’s problems now hit home faster than ever.
The great threats mankind faces today ignore borders, arising as they do from a sense of disunity. These threats, which cannot be solved competitively, but only through global cooperation, include nuclear proliferation, organized crime, poverty, infectious diseases and unsupportive health conditions and attitudes, environmental degradation, armed conflicts of all kinds, including wars both within and among nations, terrorism, the global arms trade, mass migrations, injustice, hopelessness, hunger, greed, natural disasters, ignorance, addiction, prejudice, pornography, homelessness, hate, fear, anxiety, civic alienation, loss of conscience, excessive taxation, crumbling infrastructures, more and more “enemies,” violence itself…. The list of threats without borders is long and continues to grow rapidly.
Our catastrophic and costly bumbling-world-cop approach to stemming the inexorable insistence of the world’s irrepressible have-nots only further burdens our children and grandchildren with unpayable debts for political wars of greed and fear which have a great many losers, and no winners.
The only way to lick ‘em is to join ‘em. Instead of holding at arm’s length the world’s hungry, envious and angry, instead of arming dictators or beating enemies into submission or bombing them flat, we can change the way we feel and act toward “others.” We can learn to view all people as our brothers and sisters, and to see all hostile actions as a cry for help.
We can follow the second commandment—“Love your neighbor as your self.” The best way to get rid of an enemy has always been to turn that enemy into a friend. Following Jesus’ example, we cannot give up until we have found and taken in even that last lost lamb, knowing tihat if we lose that one, if we leave behind even one “outsider,” then all are lost.
Our only real scarcity is our temporary scarcity of trust in our own and one another’s caring. There are plenty of goods, there is plenty of love and generosity, plenty of appreciation and gratitude for kindnesses large and small, plenty of everything that is needed to go around, when we learn to pull together. As Jesus taught us when he shared the loaves and fishes, there will be enough for all of us when we all give of what we have….
Our identity as a nation cannot rest upon a dusty list of yesterday’s ideals. We create our national identity every day; it emerges moment-to-moment from our chosen relations with the earth, water, and sky, with other species, with our families and neighbors, co-workers and leaders, fellow-citizens and those in every land across the globe, including the powerful and the poor, the wealthy and the weak, the sick and the old, the fearful and the vengeful; yes, even Republicans….
How we choose to view and treat others—however well or ill—inevitably comes from how we see ourselves. And how we see ourselves determines how we will see and treat others. If we see ourselves as spiritually isolated and threatened, then that’s how we’ll see others. If we know our best selves to be caring, accepting and forgiving, we will know that people everywhere are the same, even if some of us have leaders who are temporarily insane.


Please send comments to njcpace@gmail.com . Thank you! 🙂 Nancy