As we Americans once again commemorate our war dead, and pay respect to the families of those who “gave the last full measure of devotion,” I wonder:

Will we ever come to terms with the fact that many of their deaths were preventable?

They not only died for us, they died because of us and our pride, arrogance, and nationalist ego-centrism.

We Americans are sure that we can do anything we set our minds and collective will to do. Why not peace?

Why can’t we learn to treat other people with respect, and so to gain friends instead of making enemies? We are so hell bent in self-righteousness, so mired in fear of others – and so completely confused about who they are – that millions of us want a dictator in our highest office.

Our dead didn’t die so that America would be weak and terrified, but we are. After 9/11 we raised flags and were defiant and strong for a while, until Bush-Cheney told us to be terrorized, and so we were and so we remain.

History will not be kind about the fall of the American Empire. For 15 years we have declined into willful ignorance, the victims of fear and selfishness. Trump is the distillation of that consciousness.

We don’t deserve a new birth of freedom if we deny it to each other.

We don’t deserve safety unless we stand up for the refugees and give them refuge.

We are not worthy to consecrate a moment, let alone a day, in honor of our dead, until we pledge in our hearts and minds that no more shall die in vain.


March for Peace

I’ve added a new site to my links in the right column. March for peace is the site of two young people who are in the midst of a march from California to Washington DC, for the cause of peace. They started at the Golden Gate on May 20, and plan to be in Washington on 9/11. Amazing. Almost 4 months on the road, on foot, meeting people and spreading their message. Check it out.

what kind of world

Humpback nuzzled her saviors in thanks | SF Chronicle:

“‘When I was cutting the line going through the mouth, its eye was there winking at me, watching me,’ Moskito said. ‘It was an epic moment of my life.’

When the whale realized it was free, it began swimming around in circles, according to the rescuers. Moskito said it swam to each diver, nuzzled him and then swam to the next one.

‘It seemed kind of affectionate, like a dog that’s happy to see you,” Moskito said. ‘I never felt threatened. It was an amazing, unbelievable experience.'”

My Mom sent me an email that’s going around about this event, which took place in December, 2005. A humpback whale got tangled in crab trap lines near San Francisco, nearly died and was rescued by volunteers, in an act that can’t be called less than heroism. I guess Mom knows it’s the kind of thing that makes me happy. I love animals, and I have a special fondness for dolphins and whales.

It’s also the kind of thing that makes me confused, a little sad. I look at how I perceive the world of human beings, and what we’ve always made of it – generally – and I just have to sigh. I mean, look at this blog. Post after post full of derision and cynicism, not just because of the evil that we seem powerless to prevent but the good that those in power seem wholly disinterested in doing.

Here was a group of men – maybe women too, it doesn’t say – who risked their lives to save a fellow Being, a fellow traveler on life’s inscrutable timeline. And they were rewarded for it. They’ve learned the wisdom, which obviously they inclined to previously, that life is for doing good, for leaving the world in any small measure better than you found it.

How can a man like Bush, for an obvious example, even claim to be a Christian? Oh, he’ll hug a disaster survivor now and then, in a staged demonstration of compassion. But his actions as a leader have always been nothing less than evil. He’ll commute the sentence of iScooter (how cool is that word?) Libby. But as governor of Texas, he refused to commute the sentences of people sentenced to death, despite their repentance and the ardent pleas of the world’s citizens, up to and including the Pope. He couldn’t let them live out their lives in maximum security; they had to die. As president … we’ll, we’ve seen what he’s capable of … he is a man of blood, a “war president.”

I grow weary of the rhetoric. I’ve been listening to people claim to want peace all of my life, and we don’t have it. We don’t seem any closer to getting it. It’s right there, in front of us. All we have to do is reach out and choose it. We have merely to decide what kind of world we want – essentially whales and no war or war and no whales – and be the change we wish to see in the world.

Perhaps those in power are incapable of good because we have not taught them goodness, and indifferent to peace because we have not shown them the peace in us.

The spirit of democracy is not a mechanical thing to be adjusted by abolition of forms. It requires change of heart.
— Ghandi

We may never be strong enough to be entirely nonviolent in thought, word and deed. But we must keep nonviolence as our goal and make strong progress towards it.
–Ghandi, again

protest in rhode island

NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) — About 100 protesters are gathered outside the Naval War College in Newport to protest President Bush and the war in Iraq.

They’re holding signs saying “Shame,” “Impeach,” and “War is never the answer,” and chanting “No justice. No peace. U-S out of the Middle East.” [Link]

veterans protest the war

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The protest was led by Mike Sanger, an Iraq war veteran who along with two other veterans recently started the Kansas City chapter of a national organization called Iraq Veterans Against the War.

“Everybody needs to be united to put an end to this madness,” said Sanger, who was dressed in desert camouflage pants, a black T-shirt and a desert boonie hat.

a force to be rekoned with

Three activists sat quietly on the tracks, a word, “peace,” spelled out in rocks just before them between the hard iron rails. A steam engine, pulling two cars loaded with weapons bound for Central America from the Concord Naval Weapons Station, rolled down the tracks. The 40 or so people attending the protest waited expectantly for the train to stop and the arrests to be made.

Two of the protesters leapt from the tracks, but Willson couldn’t move in time. The train ran over him, severing both his legs below the knee and puncturing his skull, before leaving his mangled body on the tracks. The train did, however, stop some 500 feet down the line.

Nearly two decades after what Willson calls “the train assault,” he is living happily. He has withdrawn from national politics, believing the protests and pleas for policy change only reinforce a system built on the concept of empire. Instead, Willson believes localization, reduction and a simpler way of life are the tools to combat the train he said is coming for us all — global warming.

[read the story, Times-Standard Online]

I remember hearing about this on the news when it happened in September 1987. I was in law school at the time. I remember thinking good luck trying to sue anybody over this. A train is like a government: mass and momentum, moving in one direction, hard to stop and impossible to steer. The subject of this article has an even more circumspect and stoic perspective.

I don’t necessarily agree with Wilson about protests. There must be a moral imperative involved, or people wouldn’t give up their time and resources to speak out. Obviously, peace activism doesn’t pay much.

But he has a point.

Regimes like the Bush-Cheney cabal seem to take comfort and sustenance from knowing hearing the cries of the world against their crimes in progress. They seem to believe they possess a vision and mandate that the braying, bawling herd – that’s us – cannot comprehend. The more commoners, and intellectuals alike, stand against them, the more convinced they become in the recitude of their blood-dimmed folly. And in a staggering irony, they have called down the Good Shepard – the Prince of Peace – on their side of the argument.

It’s sickening, isn’t it? On one side, there are anti-Muslims, claiming Islam gives them the moral authority to massacre innocents, even their own brothers, and to teach their children nothing but to hate. On the other, anti-Christs, claiming the guidance of Him who taught us to love God with all our hearts and our neighbors as ourselves, and making war under His banner of love.

I don’t know much, but I know there is a God, and I know that I’m not Him. And to think I see God’s thoughts and know His will, and act as His personal agent would be utterly absurd.

I digress. The question is where can peaceful change begin. I think by teaching our children that the only legitimate government is an expression of the cooperative will of the people, that government is good for building schools and roads and not much else; that government lies compulsively and should never be trusted with our lives. And once it gets rolling, better get the hell out of its way.

play for peace

The Lysistrata Project was a reading of an ancient Greek play about women trying to stop men from fighting the Peloponnesian War. It was performed in Burlington and more than a thousand cities worldwide on March 3, 2003, just weeks before the start of the war in Iraq.

“Thousands and thousands of people have been injured and killed and had their lives ruined by this tragic event and a lot of people feel like they didn’t have power to influence something like that,” explained Lysistrata Project co-founder Kathryn Blume. “While we didn’t stop the war, we activated people all over the world by the reading of a play. I would hope that by seeing this, people would regain a little bit of hope.”

[WCAX News]

charges dropped against writer who protested cheney

Billie Letts, a writer in Tulsa OK., was arrested April 27, after she crossed a police barricade outside a Doubletree Hotel when Cheney was speaking. She carried a sign reading

Four Hundred Billion
3320 Dead
Had Enough?

Letts faced a fine of $200. But the charge was dropped because government witnessess, bless their okie hearts, didn’t show up for the trial.

“I am vehemently opposed to this war,” Letts said at the time. “I hear the total of Americans killed and Iraqis killed, and it breaks my heart.

“This war is solving nothing.”

Amen, sister.

Letts’ novels are known for their colorful characterizations of small-town Oklahoma and include “Where the Heart Is,” “Shoot the Moon” and “The Honk and Holler Opening Soon.”

“Where the Heart Is” was made into a popular motion picture starring Ashley Judd and Natalie Portman.

[Read more at]

God bless the Italians

Tens of thousands of anti-war protestors gathered in Rome on Saturday to protest against U.S. President George W. Bush, who was in the Italian capital on an official visit.

Organizers said some 150,000 people took part in “No Bush-No War” march but police put the number at 12,000.

The protest kicked off at 4:30 p.m. local time and wound its way from Piazza Repubblica near the Rome’s main train station to the famous square of Piazza Navona.

The march was organized by some 200 pacifist organizations ranging from trade unions and student groups to activists angry at the expansion of a U.S. military base in the northern city of Vicenza. [People’s Daily]

taking one for the team

NEW YORK – Peace activist Cindy Sheehan and three other women were convicted of trespassing Monday for trying to delivery an anti- war petition to the U.S. Mission to the United Nations and refusing to leave.

I’m glad my Mom never had to do that for me. In other words, there but for the Grace of God …