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Peace on Earth requires peace with Earth -- A vision for returning democracy to the people.

Building Peace Through Righteous Action

Copyright 2003 by Dave Ewoldt

I have two basic premises. The first provides the foundation and rationale for the second. The second provides some ways and ideas to help us achieve the first.

My first premise is simple: Social justice is not possible without environmental justice--because social injustice is rooted both in the squandering and unequal distribution of resources as well as in the economic disparity this causes.

Resources all come from the Earth. The way we treat the Earth when we perceive it as 'separate' instead of as part of ourselves--using and abusing it as a resource that is there for our plundering--is reflected in the way we treat others. The concepts of peace, justice and equality are actually grounded in a perception of the interconnected nature of reality. When we sense that Earth and others are really part of our own 'larger body,' that we are all intimately intertwined, these concepts naturally become part of our individual emotional and spiritual health and well-being--and they make rational sense. We can begin to understand and feel that what we do to the Earth and others, we are ultimately doing to ourselves.

My second premise is that people need to be made aware of instances when our political leaders and other authorities misrepresent the truth, refuse to reveal or discuss their motives, or are not forthcoming in presenting the facts that they do have.

As citizens of a democracy that depends on all of us being informed and having access to other points of view, we are hearing only one view presented today by the mainstream media. Hence, here is some information and ideas--some food for thought--that might be important for you to be aware of in order to more completely inform and educate yourselves on the pressing issues that face us today.

The Bush administration has generated so much ill-will around the world that it truly is hard to fully comprehend. The people who make up this administration are not evil, but they are so extremely misguided that it is easy to forgive those who think they are. In the past two years they have made it abundantly clear that they will neither play by the rules nor heed global will. This arrogance has been demonstrated by the illegal, immoral, and unjustified invasion of a sovereign nation, the attempted bullying of the UN, and the bribing of its member states to support the attack on Iraq. The administration has also demonstrated arrogance by going against the will of the European Union on global warming, by not allowing trade in generic pharmaceuticals by developing nations, by insulting France, Germany, and Turkey, by ignoring or pulling out of missile defense and non-proliferation treaties, and by refusing to take part in the International Criminal Court.

The silence and compliance of the majority of the press and the complicity of the Congress cannot be allowed to take hold in true American patriots. The peace and justice movement must continue to let the Bush administration know that it can't make unsubstantiated claims without paying the political price when those claims prove false. Saber rattling and jingoism will neither gain this administration votes nor will it silence the opposition. Criticism and a desire to hear the truth is not unpatriotic, it is the very foundation of democracy.

In some ways I wouldn't even mind the Bush administration's use of slogans and the demonization of critics if these tactics were a part of a coherent line of reasoning. However, propaganda and jingoism are being used entirely for justification instead of offering any type of coherent argument for what this administration is doing and proposing.

When I was sworn in to active duty in the United States Navy, I took an oath to protect and defend my country and our constitution from all enemies, both foreign and domestic. Upon examining the available evidence, my conclusion is that the foremost danger to the Constitution and the ideals that this country was founded upon is coming from the Bush administration.

During the public comment period of the meeting where an anti-Patriot Act resolution was adopted by the city of Bellingham, it came to light that two city council members were military veterans. In my own comments, I noted with some amount of pride that the Bellingham City Council had twice as many veterans as the Bush administration does. I feel it is important to note the veterans were also among the majority of city council members that voted to adopt the resolution voicing concern about the unconstitutional aspects of the Patriot Act and other Executive orders which weaken or overturn numerous constitutionally guaranteed civil rights and liberties.

As an American, I am not only alarmed about what my country is doing today. I am also ashamed. We have an unelected administration that appears to the world to have turned rogue. Their stated goal is to rule the world to protect corporate economic interests, as they themselves have documented by adopting security and policy plans taken from the Project for a New American Century. The original New American Century document was written and signed by the very people who now hold power within the inner circle of the Bush administration. This inner circle includes convicted felons and failed political hacks such as John Ashcroft--a man so out of touch with the mainstream that he lost an election in his home state to an opponent who was dead.

Among the false and inconsistent justifications given for attacking Iraq, the Bush administration has stated that the 9/11 attacks marked a turning point in American history--because the terrorism the rest of the world has been facing for generations had finally been brought to the home front. Obviously, this administration was counting on the American people's forgetfulness about history and on their woefully inadequate knowledge about foreign affairs--because 9/11 was not the first terrorist attack on American soil. It was not even the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center: In February of 1993, a bomb exploded in the parking garage of tower number one which killed six and injured a thousand. Iraq was not responsible for that one, either. But G.W. Bush is mistaken. We have not forgotten our history, we are not ignorant about foreign affairs, nor are we blind to the dangers of the fundamentalism that is fueling this administration.

Fundamentalism is always dangerous, whether it comes from Middle Eastern Islamicists, right-wing Hindus in India, or the American Christian right. Its growth and sustenance depends on an uninformed and down-trodden, weary, and hopeless people who can be manipulated through propaganda that an external enemy is causing their plight. But these tactics are not working on us, and we know how to stop them.

The way to defeat fundamentalism is through open, honest education, debate, and the free flow of information. The way to overcome injustice and inequality is to stop advancing policies of exploitation. We must face the difficult truth that American policies have fueled terrorist actions, that we have taken thousands of innocent lives ourselves, and that George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld are currently the lead recruiters for terrorist cells around the world.

Terrorists are not members of a single nation state or religious order. They can be anyone from any country opposed to America's military presence abroad and our support of brutal dictators. They are people opposed to the greed expressed by predatory capitalism where the natural resources of the world are subject to privatization by multinational corporations. They are those opposed to the economic restructuring policies forced upon developing countries by the US backed World Bank and IMF, where debt interest must be paid instead of making investments in social infrastructure. There is much we can do reverse these trends which would do much to reduce the terrorist's potential recruitment pool.

Our choices are extremely powerful. Just as the war against Iraq is a war of choice, and not a just war, there is much we affect towards an unfolding future with the choices we make. We can choose peace over aggression, sustainable practices over exploitation and environmental destruction, and respect over brutality as we work together to make the world a safer, instead of a more dangerous, place.

The Bush administration is choosing the worst alternatives from all of the above choices, and the consequences we are already beginning to experience should come as no surprise. Just as the peace and justice movement needs to continue presenting more peaceful, just, and sustainable alternatives to the vision of the Bush Doctrine of Empire, we also need to challenge the supreme arrogance of the Bush administration and the contempt with which it views any who dare to challenge them. This contempt and disregard for others extends to the way they view the process of democracy itself.

Starting with the stolen elections and moving toward a more secretive, more powerful, and less accountable government, we need to challenge the Bush administration and help people make the connections between tax cuts for the wealthy and cuts in social programs for the needy, and the connections among the cavalier and dismissive attitude toward the lives of Iraqi civilians, inner city youth, and the environment that sustains us all.

There are currently calls being put out for progressives to attempt to take back the Democratic Party in America. But thinking, caring people don't need to be asked to sign on to a failed vision that doesn't represent their interests in the vain hope that the Democratic Party can be changed and redeemed. What people need is a new vision coupled with a new story. Democrats who still have their soul need to move, en masse, to the Green Party. True progressives should support a true progressive party, and not simply an opposition party whose policies and pandering to monied special interests is indistinguishable from the party they purport to oppose.

It is time for the groups that comprise the peace and justice movement to coalesce, especially in the face of what may be a return of terrorist attacks here in America. We must not let fear and a rightful need for security to catalyze attacks on our rights, civil liberties, and the concept of due process. It is time to build supportive community bonds among long-time activists, our massive numbers of newcomers, and especially to those in our neighborhoods who won't come near a downtown peace protest, but who know that what's going on in the world isn't right. If we don't help create these bonds, we risk the very real possibility that we will become isolated groups--and the peace movement will again be obliterated as it was after the previous Gulf War.

As I stated before, in a democracy it is vital that we become, and remain, informed. We can neither become lost in nor misled by vilification of the current administration, or become prey to their 'good versus evil' rhetoric. We cannot let those who continue to speak out for peace and justice to become marginalized, to feel isolated, or to be silenced. A visible public outcry must not fade from sight. We need to remain a long-term, highly visible movement for positive, progressive change that remains true to our values and principles.

The Bush administration has galvanized the peace and justice movements on a global scale. A global, public dialog that is questioning the very legitimacy of war and aggression has moved into the open. It is no longer just an issue to be addressed by the left, and cuts across all previous boundaries of gender, race, culture, and religion. The causes of the poor and the working class in seeking economic justice are included as well. The shallow rhetoric that sought to build support for the war has been seen through for what it is: armed support for defense contractors and the oil cartel to prop up a sagging US economy and exploitive, unsustainable lifestyles.

The main thing to remember is that those who initiated the foolhardy war in Iraq, not those who oppose it, are the real threat to peace, security, and democracy. We need to remember that mainstream Americans are more closely aligned with the realist school of foreign policy--who have pointed out that even foreign policy hawks are alarmed by the policies of preemption and unilateralism. In the realist view, the real "radicals" today are the Bush administration.

As Dwight D. Eisenhower said, "I like to believe that people in the long run are going to do more to promote peace than are governments. Indeed, I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of their way and let them have it."

So, please remember that the antidote to despair is righteous action. The more we focus on what we don't like, the more it increases. We need to reach out to those who support the war because they do not have full knowledge of its context, history, the policies behind it, and its implications. We need to focus on what we're for, instead of spending so much time railing about what we're against.

In order to successfully challenge and change the dominator culture's worship of power, we need to grow in both consciousness, and in commitment. We need to support the formation of a cabinet level Department of Peace. We need to support United Nations resolution 377, Uniting for Peace. We need to support the impeachment of the Bush administration. And we need to remember that people who support peace, ecological integrity, fairness, and equality are truly the majority.

 

 


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