Thursday, July 2, 2015

Independence Day - from WAR and VIOLENCE!

In recent years I've begun to take a hard look at the Fourth of July: what the hell are we celebrating, anyway?

Three years back I was feeling hopeful because of the growth of the movement against drone warfare and surveillance. (See Independence Day - from DRONES!) Although we haven't stopped the drones completely, that movement has continued to grow and strengthen, and it has forced serious discourse on what our government is doing.

Just one year later we were enjoying another moment of hope: the Snowden revelations. (See Independence Day - From SURVEILLANCE) We certainly haven't put an end to government surveillance, but we have had some victories. (See, for instance, "U.S. Surveillance in Place Since 9/11 Is Sharply Limited")

Earlier this week, a friend of mine, Rivera Sun, was sharing an image of her holiday banner and asked the question, "I'm curious, who feels more like protesting on the Fourth of July than parading?"

Rivera Sun's holiday banner:
"It's July 4th - do you know where your democracy is?"

It reminded me that the patriotic thing to do on Independence Day is to start a conversation about something really important to our country (and the world), like stopping war and militarism.

Start a REAL conversation at the Fourth of July BBQ this year:
I support ANTI-WAR candidates! (Know any?)

The most obvious entry point into that conversation seems to be election 2016 and the question of whether we have any antiwar candidates.

But I can't help thinking that there's a deeper question we should be discussing, namely, "Can we have a successful antiwar movement without an all-out commitment to nonviolence?"

The answer makes a difference, because there are two separate campaigns that are making big strides right now: World Beyond War and Campaign Nonviolence. They have many shared aims, and are mutually reinforcing. (See, for instance, the sections "Nonviolence: The Foundation of Peace" and "Nonviolent Direct Action Campaigns" in World Beyond War's A Global Security System: An Alternative to War.) But where should the main emphasis be placed? When it comes to ending war and ending violence, does one come before the other? (If so, shouldn't we start there? Otherwise, isn't there a risk of effort being expended inefficiently? Have we got any effort to spare?)

Heaven knows I have seen this on a local level in my work in the city of Chicago. Young people we counsel to eschew violence come right back at us, saying, "That advice is hard to swallow, considering we live in a country whose answer to every conflict is to call in an air strike . . . . "

"What comes first: independence from war? or independence from violence?"

I can't help feel that there could be nothing more important than getting as many people as possible to care about the answer to this question, and to act on it.

Your comments on this post would be greatly appreciated. And the more people you can share it with, the better.

Talk to your people! Maybe the best place to start IS that Fourth of July BBQ . . . .

Related posts

I believe an enormous number of people will conclude that, if they really believe "we can choose to abolish war," then what's required is to speak it.

(See "We can choose to abolish war" (The rest is just details) )

I wonder if the outrage that many Muslims seem to feel at the suffering of other Muslims doesn't put us Christians to shame.

(See Fighting Back: It's alright as long as you're a Christian, right? )

In a composition suggestive of a yin-yang symbol, a woman in a burka (but wearing audacious red glitter platform heels) is surrounded by genie-ish tableaus of the many male obsessions/pastimes that some of us rail about frequently -- sexualized pop singers, professional sports -- as well as some that we probably should rail about more (such as patriarchy in religion and political violence).

(See VIOLENCE: " . . . and the women must live with the consequences . . . " )

The Last Supper is a staggering collection of 600 plates that the artist Julie Green has painted with images and notations about the last meals of people put to death in states across the US.

(See Communion of a Different Sort: "The Last Supper" at the Block Museum )

"We will discuss replacing the violence of militarism with a community of peacemaking that will not channel our children into the service because they are poor. We will speak of using budgets at every level of government to ensure fairness and equality – two of the cornerstones of peace."

(See the Remedy for Violence website)