Saturday, August 23, 2014

Why is "Ending the military drone program" a pillar of Campaign Nonviolence?

People around the country are participating in "Campaign Nonviolence" this September to stop war, impoverishment, and climate destruction.

Campaign Nonviolence has articulated concrete goals, one of which is:

Ending the military drone program

Why is "Ending the military drone program" a pillar of Campaign Nonviolence? Some people may feel that the military drone program is just one small corner of the massive US complex of violent militarism.

In one sense they're right: eventually we need to dismantle the whole d*#n thing.

But here's why ending the military drone program is such an essential step, and why it is a vital pillar of Campaign Nonviolence.

Reclaiming our empathy

The US drone program is high-tech, relatively cheap, and flexible. For all those reasons it is an extremely dangerous development. Moreover, it encourages proliferation like no military development in history.

But perhaps the single most significant consequence of the advent of killer drones is that they allow the state to efficiently separate war-making from the emotional involvement of the people of the country using them.

In other words, with the coming of drone warfare, we have been denied the opportunity for empathy with those affected by our (direct and indirect) actions.

In my opinion, the key psychological element of the state's drone program is that invites people to "check out" -- to say, perhaps unconsciously, "Well, at least there's none of our people at risk . . . . "

The faceless fuselage of the Reaper drone has become the perfect embodiment of this affect-less dystopia.

And that's why so much activism has been aimed at helping people reconnect to the people affected by the drone strikes -- and to encourage people to start using their emotions again.

Empathy is like a muscle: once it is allowed to atrophy, it takes real work to get it strong and functioning again.

The larger Campaign Nonviolence challenge

Once one begins to think in this way, it can be seen that there is a connection between the "ending drone warfare" goal and other CNV goals, such as "establishing a $15 minimum wage for all" and even "practicing nonviolence toward the planet."

As long as we continue to allow the instruments of modern living to put distance between ourselves and those around us -- he doesn't matter, he's just a busboy ... it doesn't matter, it will just go in the trash with all the other disposable cups -- we will refuse to acknowledge how our own actions contribute to the violence done to others.

What Campaign Nonviolence is, really, is an invitation to us to (re)experience compassion.

Dozens of Campaign Nonviolence actions will be taking place nationwide during September, 2014, many of them organized by groups with a strong history of protesting drones killings and drone surveillance.

You can help by:

  SHARE: Please share this post with others on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, so that they can learn about the importance of the "end drone warfare" aspect of Campaign Nonviolence, too!

PARTICIPATE: See the full list of actions nationwide and make a commitment to participate in one near you.

LEAD: Sign up here to help make sure a Campaign Nonviolence event happens in YOUR area.

Related posts

With drones, people become just dots. "Bugs." People who no longer count as people . . . .

(See Drone Victims: Just Dots? Just Dirt? )

In my opinion, the reason to focus on drones is this: when we focus on drones, the general public is able to "get," to an unusual extent, the degree to which popular consent has been banished from the process of carrying out state violence. (Sure, it was banished long ago, but the absence of a human in the cockpit of a drone suddenly makes a light bulb go off in people's heads.) It takes some prodding, but people can sense that drone use somehow crosses a line. And that opens up the discussion about how our consent has been eliminated from the vast range of US militarism.

(See "Why focus on drone attacks?")

As we think about and discuss issues such as distancing ... authority, collateral damage, and pre-emptive violence ... surveillance ... and technology, does theology (e.g. the Creed) help us make choices about responsibility? Does it move us effectively from the "something oughta be done" stage ... through the "I can do something" stage ... up to and including the "I am doing something" stage?

(See Drones: Am I Responsible?)

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