Change Course

Our history is full of people who have championed peace and diplomacy over war. We have honored those people and those ideals. Yet time after time we have allowed lies and greed to lead us into endless and inhumane wars.

The assassination of a member of Iran’s government was a flagrant disregard of international law and has opened the door for retaliation and the escalation of death and destruction.

The fumbling assertions of the Trump administration regarding troops in Iraq demonstrate the dangerous incompetency that is at the helm.

This president continues the legacy of past presidents, which is to be led by those who make money on weapons and war. When he speaks of protecting United States interests, he is speaking of oil. If we allow this escalation of war and the stealing of resources we are complicit and culpable.

But make no mistake;it is Congress that declares war, not the president. And it is the people of the United States who can still determine their collective history.

Therefore it is imperative we stand for peace and diplomacy in whatever means is available to us. It’s also imperative that we end our financial ties to the industries of weaponry and oil. And we must talk to those who believe in the false words and actions of a leadership, which is totally corrupt. And to the evangelicalswho are following in hope of some fulfillment of prophecy, I say, “Snap out of it”.

We need your kind hearts, we need your love of humanity and of the God you claim to worship; we need you to remember.

We must demonstrate to a world very uncertain of our motives but very certain of our ability to create chaos and death, that we, the people, are willing to change course.

It is still up to us.

 

Poster compliments of the tireless efforts of the American Friends Service Committee. Click to sign and learn more about stopping the escalation towards war.

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Don’t Give Your Life Away

Our honoring of Veterans on November 11th stems from the Armistice or peace agreement set forth on the 11thhour of the 11thday of the 11thmonth of 1918, which brought an end to WWI. Known as “the war to end all wars” both sides agreed to end the bloody conflict, which had taken more than 8.5 million lives over four years.

When the generals agreed to end the fighting, the Allies chose the 11th hour. Six hours remained before that time. In the final moments, a young man, honored by the United States as the last soldier to die in that war, charged the German line. Both sides called for him to stop before machine guns ended his life.

Henry Gunther had been drafted. On the front lines he had written a letter urging a friend not to enlist. The letter was intercepted and for his clarity he was demoted. His fiancé ended their engagement and he was left to prove himself a worthy soldier.

The peace of the armistice did not find him.

When I was young I dreamed that one-day soldiers would refuse to fight. I was told it was naïve. I am older now and I have learned a bit about peace. And this is what I know: peace is a personal choice we each must make again and again. It is not an end of conflict. It is a feeling and an understanding and it is possible.

Peace is a choice. And I am still dreaming that all people will make that choice.

As for Henry Gunther he was posthumously reinstated to his role as sergeant. And even though honored as the last to die in the war, he was not.

But he reminds us of this: Discover your own armistice and don’t give your life away.

 

Cloak of Belief

I avoid confrontation when it comes to belief. I don’t mind an interesting debate of facts and I relish a good conversation of shared knowledge. But belief, well you know the saying…everybody has one.

Belief is that insidious master who lays claim to you without showing papers of ownership. It comes along in our young years while our brains are being washed and sticks around like a nasty virus until we take the time to shake it off.

The ugly reality is that we have politicized our beliefs. It’s not enough to feel superior; we work hard to reduce the rights of those we deem different or lessor. It’s not enough to have enough; we ensure we remain on top through the exploitation of people and land.  And how do we justify these abnormalities: We believe. We latch onto the beliefs that satisfy us and ignore the ones that might actually make us think and allow us to feel our humanity.

My pet peeve these days are the Zionist Christians so eager for Eternal Life that they are willing to let their trumped up Christian president and his henchman march us into a war with Iran. Or that these same people are OK with the genocide and apartheid of the Palestinian people by the state of Israel – paid for and sanctioned by the United States government. Or how they ignore the fact that Saudi Arabia is behind the annihilation of Yemen, allowing innocent people to starve to death – also paid for and supported by the United States government.

These same people are quick to jump on the ‘hate queers’ bandwagon, proudly proclaim their racial bigotry, and praise God all in one mouthful.

Forget the kingdom of heaven on earth. We are too busy creating hell.

I ask you: Where have these Christians gone?  They are buried under a cloak of belief.

 

Tell the Senate “No War with Iran” by signing here.

Ode to Human Beings

There are many who take the bold steps to be human.

In honor of Black History Month I am sharing the words of Shirley Chisholm, “We must reject not only the stereotypes that others hold of us, but also the stereotypes that we hold of ourselves.”

There is great wisdom in these words. There is freedom in these words. Far too often, we are content with the labels that have been placed upon us, or the ones that we have chosen. In doing so, we often forget that our greatest gift, our greatest strength is found in our humanity.

I am currently engaged in discussions about protecting the environment of the township where I live. When we first met everyone was a stranger to me. Knowing the political climate here, it would have been easy to categorize everyone and prepare for battle. But I chose not to.

Instead I gave my ear to their concerns and when I offered my thoughts, it was without expectation. Confrontation was sidestepped with respect. And as we continue to meet, I am grateful to be in the company of people content in being human rather than in strict adherence to a label. And it has reminded me how very possible it is for all of us to live in this way.

Our country is poised to invade Venezuela. The economic squeeze that we have placed upon that country is undeniable. Our government has orchestrated a potential coup that may come to violence. What can stop it? Only our humanity can stop it.

We must encourage one another to be human. We must free ourselves from the stereotypes that have entrapped and paralyzed us. It is time we emerge as human beings, caring for the earth and caring for one another. It is our way out.

 

Special Thanks to WDRT Driftless Community Radio 91.9 FM for airing “Consider This” every Thursday 5:30 pm CST. Or you can listen here on Soundcloud.

 

No Excuses for War

The 27 million people of Yemen are bound by a geographical dilemma. They are bordered by Saudi Arabia and the Red Sea. Iran and Saudi Arabia have chosen to duel out their differences over the people of Yemen, producing a bloody civil war for the past three years. The United States, Great Britain and France have all supported Saudi Arabia with weaponry, intelligence and fuel. The Houthi rebels have been backed by Iran.

That is the scenario of our foreign policy. Somehow in the word game of war we are supposed to understand and accept the slaughter of thousands of civilians caught in the middle as collateral damage.

We are supposed to ignore the human beings trapped by minefields, mortars and airstrikes. We are supposed to understand that 10, 000 killed and millions displaced have some purpose in the great scheme of things.

We are to accept the famine caused by the collapse of Yemen’s currency and skyrocketing food prices. We are to pray for the victims as we learn that nearly 14 million are expected to die over the next few months.

Our government and the governments of the world would like us to continue to believe there is nothing we can do. But the violent murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi has started to wake us again to the realization that we must fight for human rights and human dignity.

Squeezing Iran with sanctions and continuing arms sales to the Saudis are not the ways to peace. It only ensures war will continue.

One year ago it was projected that 50, 000 Yemenis’ children would die by year’s end – today the projections are that 5 million may die. What will it take for our nation’s people to rise up for peace? To rise against our government’s insistence on war over diplomacy?

It is time we stand for peace at all costs.

 

This piece aired Nov 15 on WDRT. You can listen to it here on Soundcloud.

This is the most current update on our government’s refusal to get out of Yemen.

With Our Consent

Our long term and complicit relationship with Saudi Arabia has recently become more insidious. It has come as our president – with unquestioned financial ties to Saudi Arabia – is unable to demand from the Saudis a full account of the gruesome murder of the Saudi born, United States permanent resident and outspoken journalist, Jamal Khashoggi.

This is happening while audio of the torture and dismemberment of Khashoggi in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul is slowly leaked. This as his body parts and disfigured face are discovered buried at the consulate. This as CEO’s cancel trips to Saudi Arabia and German Chancellor Merkel stops the sale of arms to that country. This while the Turkish president insists on bringing the squad of killers to trial in his country where the brutal murder took place.

Trump has called the lame and ever-changing excuses put forth by the Saudis regarding the death of Jamal Khashoggi as “credible”. He has insisted he does not want to sanction the Saudis and cut off an arms deal.

Yet the world watches as we give up our humanity and any remaining moral leadership for money; money that will supply bombs to Saudi Arabia so they may continue to destroy Yemen and countless innocent children with our weaponry and our consent.

I am reminded of “thirty pieces of silver” as I listen to the president grovel at the feet of the Crown Prince.

So while everyone is focused on getting out the vote – which is good and fine – we are losing something more than an election.

Talk to one another. Bring decency back into the narrative. And bring your courage to speak out. Your silent vote is good but your standing up now is what is needed.

 

Photo credit: Cash. (Jericho/Wikimedia Commons)

Give It a Chance

Maybe I am not as cynical about the Trump- Kim agreements on nuclear disarmament because I listened to the early morning press conference that immediately followed their meeting. Pundits and politicians on both the left and the right are suspiciously eyeing the agreement, looking for loopholes and creating doubt. If the agreements were not about the de-escalation of nuclear weapons and a step towards peace, their alarming comments would almost be funny.

Let’s consider the stakes: the reunion of nearly 65,000 individuals to family members living on either side of the border; the return of the remains of our soldiers who died during that horrific war; and the possibility of “de-nuking” the Korean peninsula…it seems to me we owe this moment, if not applause, at least a silent hope that peace will prevail.

In one of the longest press conferences ever, I listened, as an elated Trump sounded rather surprised at the outcome of the meeting. It was in stark contrast to Kim’s few words, but not in content as a buoyant Kim told reporters, “ The world will see major changes.”

After months of wrangling and insulting one another, whatever brought on the handshake, the terms of respect and the intention to work together is not mine to question.

Sure, there were moments when I thought, “Get a room”, but if this is how they will find a way to peace then bring it on.

There are very few at the top who make these decisions, and a very few below them whispering or shouting in their ears, but the vast majority of us breathed a sigh of relief at the thought of peaceful resolution and troops coming home.

As with the famous words of John Lennon, let us please find a way to, “Give peace a chance”.

 

 

photo: Graffiti on the Lennon Wall, Prague, Czech Republic.
Source: Wikipedia and Licensed through Creative Commons.

This piece aired on WDRT’s “Consider This”, June 14. You can hear it here.

Our Mistake with Iran

It appears the king of frenetic energy has done it again. Pulling out of the nuclear “deal” with Iran, President Trump has sent allies and others into frenzy. They are trying to salvage the one step that had promised some semblance of peace to the troubled region. Everyone had admitted there were flaws in the accord – I try to refrain from using the word deal which is better left for car sales and snake oil – but with the US walking out of the efforts to correct the accord, the promise of peace is greatly diminished. When asked if this pull out has brought us closer to war, even right wing pundits admit, “Yes, it has”.

From what I can tell there are two ideologies leading the pack. One is the very old “might is right”. Certain that increased sanctions will force regime change; this out dated wisdom ignores the reality that the people of Iran had already moved toward a more reasoned and modern government. And now with the threat of severe sanctions again impeding their lives, Iranians question the wisdom of creating a new “deal”, which a new president could once again discard. Keep in mind; the Iranians had not broken the accord that President Obama had signed onto.

The second ideology is equally outdated. Our interest in the Mid-east is due to oil. Oil has us selling weapons to the Saudi’s to bomb Yemen. Oil has the world spinning to control Syria. Oil created the “shock and awe” of Iraq and make no mistake, oil is the incentive in destroying Iran.

While Israel, Pakistan and India’s nuclear weaponry sits unquestioned. And only the Saudi’s and Israel are celebrating this hawkish move to disavow the accord, one has to question the sanity of ‘might is right’ and the need for oil.

I once heard that if pigs knew their dung would be used for explosives, they would still be constipated.*

We need to look at our choices. We are implicitly to blame if once again our military or our weaponry are used for regime change. And it will be innocent blood again on our hands. Divest from oil. Call for diplomacy. Humanity is watching and the yet-to-be-born children of the world are begging.

 

 

This “Consider This” aired on WDRT, Thursday, May 10. You can catch Consider This every Thursday at about 5:28 pm CST. You can also hear it on Soundcloud.

*Through the decades, Prem Rawat has kept me thinking and has urged me to my humanity. This quip I remember from the 70’s.

What Price Peace?

I wrote the following a few weeks back, it aired  on WDRT‘s Consider This. The winter games have begun and this moment of unification of the Koreas is being duly noted by most as a significant step towards peace. It is the first time a member of the royal family of North Korea has stepped foot on South Korean soil in over 67 years… Regretfully this step towards peace is being marred by the Vice President of the US continuing to rattle swords, refusing to sit at the table of the North Korean diplomats and adamantly calling for military exercises to begin with South Korea immediately after the conclusion of the Olympic games. Really, US? It seems we are no longer interested in peace. War is too profitable. People like to say having a big stick brings peace. But throughout my life when people presented a big stick, they never won my respect, nor my allegiance. In truth they found a worthy foe. The big stick went the way of the Neanderthal, let it rest. Let’s get on with peace.

Consider This 2/8/18

In case you haven’t heard – North and South Korea will be sharing the spotlight in the winter Olympic games in Pyeongchang. This isn’t a dream; it’s fact. The Korean women’s hockey team will be comprised of players from both North and South Korea and they will enter the games together under one unified flag. If you recall the vitriol of recent months you are either scratching your head in disbelief or eking out a scream of halleluiah.

Perhaps we are not far from seeing common sense and common ground outlasting the folly of war. Perhaps chest thumping is no longer winning favor among sensible people and war weary humans are seeking solutions that may be longer lasting and far less destructive.

The Olympic games were meant for this. A truce of war called for a celebration of what is possible. When the president of the United States spoke of annihilating the entire nation of North Korea, I am hunching the president of S. Korea Moon Jae-in realized his opportunity to bring peace was shortening. When elected he had declared his goal was to resolve the North Korean nuclear problem and solidify peace between the two nations.

Now, there are conservative nationals in South Korea who are against this unity. The South Korean president’s ratings have dropped markedly since his agreement to work with the North. And of course our own military and government are still rattling swords and preparing for the worst.

The path to peace is not for the weak of heart. But I am betting on this man, this son of North Korean refugees, and on the 60,000 South Koreans still on the list of families wishing to reconnect with loved ones in the North. And after 67 years, there are those in the North praying for the same.

I am betting on diplomacy born of a shared humanity. There is a growing recognition that North Korea needs to come out of isolation and engage with the international community. That makes total sense, to bring people into conversation, not to shun them.

For all the nay saying and dooms day enthusiasm, I am hoping the intention for peace will prevail. It seems at least for now we are off to a good start.

 

Picture: Wikimedia commons

The Dream Continues

There are many reasons to celebrate this time of year. The lengthening of days, the brilliance of stars, the hitting of the refresh button with the turn of the Gregorian calendar…the strengthening of hope that we can make it all just a little better, beginning with each resolution and echoing out.

In the midst of all of these reasons for us to get it right, January is a fine month to celebrate the life of a man who challenged the status quo of racism and the ignorance of war. A man whose words and actions still inform us and shine the light of hope. For all the time that has passed and all the inhumanity that has persisted, the fervent will of Martin Luther King continues to reach us.

And this is as it should be. It is never to late to cultivate a will of love.

There are many today who criticize the man for having human faults. But I think it is not the man, but the wisdom, that we need.

If in remembering his words, his actions and his sacrifice, a fire is rekindled towards peace, kindness and good will, what harm is there in that?

This season will move swiftly on and the business of spring planting, tax time, elections and other worldly activities will take center stage. Our challenge is to hold onto the spirit of this time, regardless of what comes.

We are here to help one another. We are here to experience peace and to share Good times even in the hard times. We are here to love.

Anything less, my friends is not part of our birthright, anything less is not part of The Dream. Yes, let us begin again. With renewed vigor let us write a new story. We are alive… we still have time to get it right. And yes, it is a worthy effort.

I will leave you with theses words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. : “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

 

 

This piece aired on WDRT’s Consider This, Thursday, January 25. You can listen to it on soundcloud.

You can hear more about the life of Dr. King and a see clips from a new HBO documentary about King’s last years, titled “King in the Wilderness,” on Democracy Now. which also aired Thursday January 25.