Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Expand the Us to Include the Them

The title of this blog comes from the closing chapter of Douglas Fry's recent opus, War, Peace and Human Nature. This crucial sentiment is captured magnificently in this short video from the Cleveland Clinic, that me beloved wife shared with me this week, after she viewed it as part of some volunteer training she received.

 Cover for 
War, Peace, and Human Nature

Fry shares this important reflection from the late Wangari Maathai, that

     Sometimes the inspiration to act arrives as a spark; sometimes it takes the form of a process. Whether one is drawn into action through a sudden rush of inspiration, or through the slow dawning of a realization that something needs to change, I would argue that it all comes from the Source. But it's nonetheless essential to cultivate an attitude that allows you to take advantage of that awakening. This entails keeping your mind, eyes, and ears open, so that when an idea arrives you'll be ready for it. (cited in Fry p.550)

 As mentioned in a recent post, a book generously shared with me recently, has absorb some of my attention over the past ten days. Completing it this morning I can only describe the experience as one that had me squirming from the uncomfortable confrontation with beliefs that have been challenged and laid bare. In War No More: The Case for Abolition, author/activist David Swanson takes no prisoners. Over four aptly titled chapters: 1) War Can Be Ended; 2) War Should Be Ended; 3) War is Not Going to End on Its Own; and 4) We Have to End War, Swanson passionately confronts most challenges thrown at those might hold that such an ambitious aspiration is simply tilting at windmills.

He offers multiple approaches to push towards that end, but if there is one foundational one that supports all the others is that simply one must believe war can be ended. The forces that prevent us from considering such a thought are substantial as he notes for example in citing  a recent book by Bill Bigelow in a book called Teaching About the Wars:

      Now as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, our wars in the Middle East have moved from the front pages of our newspapers to the inside of our textbooks. The huge corporations that produce these texts have no interest in nurturing the kind of critical thought that might generate questions about today's vast inequalities of wealth and power --or, for that matter, about the interventionist policies of our government. Exhibit A is Holt McDougal;s Modern World History on the U.S. war with Iraq, which might as well have been written by Pentagon propagandists. Maybe it was. In an imitation of Fox News, the very first sentence of the Iraq war section mentions the 9/11 attacks and Saddam Hussein side by side. The book presents the march to invasion as reasonable an inevitable, while acknowledging: 'Some countries, France and Germany, called for letting inspectors continue searching for weapons.' That's the only hint of any opposition to war, despite the fact that there was enormous popular opposition to the war, culminating on February 15, 2003 the date which saw millions of people around the world demand the the United States not invade Iraq - if you're keeping track, this was the largest protest in human history according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

He quotes Bigelow further. And actually it was his earlier reference to the work of Fry that led me to his work. Swanson is no partisan hack. He dresses down Obama as well as Bush, Truman as well as Reagan and Clinton. As uncomfortable as it was, this book should be widely read and discussed. I now see why the givers of copies of this book bought so many copies to share. Now if we could only share our stored energies to make the end of war the call of our generation. Then maybe we might be honored by future generations as an honorable one.