Tuesday, September 27, 2016

NUKES: Your Call to Your Congressman Matters

It's time to bring nuclear weapons under control. The PEOPLE instruct Congress, and Congress lays down the law. (As in: the "Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2016"!)

Nuclear weapons on alert . . .
Put the BRAKES on!
Call Congress: SUPPORT Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2016
(Share this message on Twitter.)

The conventional wisdom we've been stuck with is:

* we can't get rid of nuclear weapons
* with nuclear weapons, the president alone gets to call the shots
* ordinary people don't have a voice, so the best thing they can do is try not to think about it

But there's a new paradigm, with roots in the US Constitution:

Governance flows from the people up;
that applies to nuclear weapons
just like it does to everything else!

Today in the US Congress, Representative Ted Lieu and Senator Ed Markey introduced the "Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2016," asserting, in part:

"A first-use nuclear strike 
conducted absent a declaration of war by Congress 
would violate the Constitution."

and hence establishing . . . 

"PROHIBITION: Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the President may not use the Armed Forces of the United States to conduct a first-use nuclear strike unless such strike is conducted pursuant to a declaration of war by Congress that expressly authorizes such strike."

(See full press release on he "Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2016.")

Every US citizen should be on the phone to their congressman . . .  Go to Find Your Representative / Contact Your Senator to get contact information for your representative and/or senator. Call them and say . . .

"I am deeply concerned about the threat of nuclear weapons."

"I agree Congress must re-assert its authority over war, including nuclear weapons."

"I urge my representative to co-sponsor the 'Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2016'"

Each person who acts participates in creating a new reality:

* we CAN get ride of nuclear weapons
* with nuclear weapons, the president alone DOESN'T get to call the shots
* ordinary people DO have a voice

Tell Congress to put the brakes on nuclear weapons.

Related posts

Elaine Scarry demonstrates that the power of one leader to obliterate millions of people with a nuclear weapon - a possibility that remains very real even in the wake of the Cold War - deeply violates our constitutional rights, undermines the social contract, and is fundamentally at odds with the deliberative principles of democracy.

(See Reviews of "Thermonuclear Monarchy: Choosing Between Democracy and Doom" by Elaine Scarry )

There are three centers of power that will impact nuclear disarmament: the President, the Congress, and the people. One of them will have to make nuclear disarmament happen.

(See Countdown to U.S. Nuclear Disarmament (With or Without the Politicians) )

The decision about whether to live with the threat of nuclear annihilation is our decision. Are we capable of making sure the messengers -- Obama, Congress, the other agents of government -- hear their instructions from us clearly?

(See NEEDED: Heroes to Bring About Nuclear Disarmament )

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Global Peace Movement: Big, Networked, Diverse

The global peace movement: We're big. We're getting networked. We're diverse (and therein lies our strength).

"Peace is Universal" - shared on Twitter V @marianoGROVETON

Last year I paused to reflect after Peace Day (September 21) and identified 10 aspects of the peace movement that I thought were (and are) important.

This year I'm getting even leaner.

I think there are three (3) things we in the movement need to pay attention to. Everything else follows from that.

(1) We're BIG!

We tend to bemoan the fact that "there aren't enough of us."

In fact, there are COUNTLESS people out there devoting themselves to peace work of various kinds.

They're in every country.

They're of every gender. They're of every age.

They do it in their jobs and they do it as volunteers.

Do you doubt it? Scroll through some of the peace workers I follow on Twitter.

A big moment for me came when I realized that not everyone doing great peace work lives where I live, or looks like me, or is even doing the kind of work I'm doing. Once I started to explore the real extent of the movement, what I found surprised me!

(2) We need to be networked

"Sure," I hear you saying, "there are huge numbers of people working for peace. But how do we connect with each other?"

I'll be writing more about this. For now, I'll just put forward a couple of observations:

(a) I think we need to view "connecting" as a central and ongoing task. Each of us needs to make it a daily discipline, and I think we need to devote a significant percentage of our time to making connections.

(b) The low cost of connecting via the Internet works to our advantage.

Setting some goals is the first step.

(Here's an idea: Using social media, try to notice one new person doing peace work each day. Take a few minutes to look at the work they are doing, think about it, and bring them and their work to the attention of others. This morning, I shared information about Japanese peace activist Kozue Akibayashi.)

(3) Our diversity is our strength

We are diverse: that's a fact.

Working on A Global Security System: An Alternative to War helped me recognize the many threads in any attempt to describe the peace movement. In a given day, I might be tuning in to communities focusing on nuclear disarmament, counter-recruitment in schools, the connection of development to peace, the occupation of Palestine, faith-based activism, the use of technology for peace work, general antiwar activism, and more . . . .

Now, the peace movement is subject to self-criticism that says, "We're not united enough" and or "We're not focused enough on the main thing."

The strategic challenge we face is to wake up to the fact that -- globally -- we are pursuing peace work in diverse ways . . . and then figure out a way to take advantage of the inherent strength in the existence of these diverse approaches.

I'll be talking more about this, you can be sure!

Related posts

September is a big month for peace work organizing - the UN International Day for Peace is September 21. As you plan your peace work for September, consider how you will directly and/or indirectly participate in and support of these activities taking place around the world.

(See Make Your Plans for #PeaceWork in September)

Twitter is certainly a powerful way to quickly form connections with others in the movement.

(See Suggestions for Successful Twitter Activism)

Yesterday was the UN International Day of Peace (2015). The day nudged me to think about what -- if anything -- I feel I really know about peace and the movement for peace. Here are 10 things that are true for me . . . .

(See #PeaceDay 2015 - Ten Thoughts on Peace)

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

#Peacework on #PeaceDay: Support Another #Peace Worker

There are a thousand different ways to engage in effective peace work. One way: support and encourage your fellow peace workers. Like Chelsea Manning . . . .

Write a letter . . .

Hey Patriot!!
a lot of friends and
supporters are thinking
of you today -
a very happy birthday to you!!
Michael Stipe
(Share on Twitter.)

(Follow these instructions for precise mailing address for Chelsea Manning at Leavenworth.)

Watch the video . . .

Sign the petition at FreeChelsea.com . . . .

Related posts

The Path to Peace: Why Not the Manning Way?

Are YOU Ready to Swallow a Daily Dose of "the Manning Principle"?

Hoping Against Hope (Resistance in America)

I am (I will become) Bradley Manning

Chicago Says "Free Bradley!"

Is it possible that the course of these lives wouldn't have been quite the same without that moment of encouragement? Have you experienced this in your own life?

(See Have YOU Encouraged Someone Today?)

The song's lyrics alternated between "talking about the passion" and "carrying the weight of the world," over and over again. It was as if to say, "This is something we are going to keep working through, again and again, until we come to grips with it."

(See Thoughts Before Holy Week: Talk About the Passion

Sunday, September 18, 2016

On Nuclear Weapons: We Need Tenacity

I'm back from a week in Washington, DC, talking to people in Congress about the need to take back control of nuclear weapons from the president -- advocacy I encourage every person in the US to engage in.

When I set out for Washington, I tried to motivate myself with an image of strength, righteousness, and nobility. Here is my image of myself carrying an important message to Congress:

NASA 747 transporting space shuttle orbiter over Washington, DC.
Congress is visible in the lower right corner.

After talking to a lot of people -- and never being quite exactly whether or not I was being heard -- I was beginning to feel less and less like a sleek and powerful spaceship.

As the time came to leave for home, I was lucky enough to encounter an adage about the power of persistence: “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.” (Attributed to the Dalai Lama.)

“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”
(Image from Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears: A West African Tale,
a picture book by Verna Aardema and illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon.)

So I return home . . . humbled but still persistent . . . .

More to come . . . . 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Suggestions for Successful Twitter Activism

Intentional social media for activism: pace/frequency, reciprocity/sharing, lists, visuals, and connecting/links all play a part.

Twitter: get the word out!
I think every peace activist should be extremely intentional about using social media: there is unprecedented power available to us through this tool.

Being intentional requires us to ask what is really effective, to make efforts to become more effective. and to learn from what happens along the way.

I've been trying to do this for years now: my very first post on this blog was entitled "Goal for November: Figure Out Twitter". That was in 2009.

Along the way, I've learned some things about Twitter related to:

I've included some notes about each below. As you'll see, it's a work in progress. I've included some links to helpful resources, in the hopes that I've whet your appetite to learn more . . . !

I hope that we can all learn from each other to become super-effective social media users!

(1) Pace/frequency of tweets

How often should you tweet?

My suggestion: at least once a day, and ideally a handful (6-10?) tweets a day. (Not more than once or twice per hour.)

Why at least once a day? Posting at least one tweet per day assures that anyone who looks at your Twitter account will conclude, "This person is active." That is important if you want them to follow you and pay attention to you in other ways.

(And that's why you want that one tweet to be a good one. It kind of defines you.)

((So: maybe pin the tweet you want people to see first. It's an important choice.))

Why limit the number of tweets? Remember that people will be seeing your tweets in a stream that includes diverse tweets from all the accounts they follow. It's better to get their attention with one or two really good tweets than to annoy them with a whole string of tweets of variable quality.

If you're going to tweet, why not give it your best shot?

Is there an app for that? I suggest people read about Buffer:

"How the Founder of Buffer Tweets: The System and 5 Types of Tweets to Keep Your Followers Engaged"

At first I resisted using Buffer, but I have found it has helped me be much more intentional about my tweeting!

(2) Reciprocity/sharing on Twitter

Is it better to share the things other people tweet? Or to create original material?

My own belief is that the essence of social media is sharing and reciprocity.

Of course, that doesn't mean mindless, robotic retweeting. Ideally, we can all share a lot while also each adding a little extra oomph! to the things we share, too.

Here's an example of something I (re)tweeted this morning:

Share this post on Twitter.

It reflects a "tip o' the hat" to a long time collaborator (@plussone), and shares the material with other accounts that I am in various stages of conversation with (@monicadavey1 @CureViolence @CampaignNV  @naarpr  ). Since they're all public figures or organizations, it's a personalized message with a public character. (It poses a question I hope everyone will find provocative.)

I initially thought about simply retweeting the original post. Then I thought about trying to spell out what I thought the report might mean. The more I thought about it, the more I realized, "There's so much between the lines here. Let's get some other people in on this conversation."

Suggestion 1: Start paying attention to your Twitter notifications (link at the top of page) -- including those who share your tweets, and the new followers you attract. Is some reciprocity in order?

Suggestion 2: Follow some interesting accounts. Notice if they follow back.

(3) Twitter lists

Once you begin to have a large list of accounts you follow, you will find it difficult to wad through the strea, of tweets from all of them in the main Twitter feed.

I suggest making one or more Twitter lists.

I have created lists relating to several different topics: twitter.com/Scarry/lists

One way lists help me is that I can devote a small amount of time each day on specific topics of greatest importance to me -- nuclear disarmament, for instance -- and be assured of immediately finding some really valuable material to sink my teeth into.

(Reciprocity also plays a part: lists give me quick access to the accounts that I tend to have a lot of productive engagement with.)

I've found that lists make the difference between Twitter use being random and tedious vs. being intentional and effective.

Here's a good post with more information about Twitter lists: "What's a Twitter list and how should I use it?"

(4) Visuals in tweets

A couple of years ago, some friends told me:

* social media posts get better response if they include images combined with words ("memes")
* for best display on Twitter, use 1024 x 512 px (w x h) memes

Changed my life . . . .

I'm still in the beginning stages of learning to make really good memes. I use the simple Paint tool that came with my computer. It's all I need to resize images and overlay text.

Here's a meme that I borrowed from someone else -- one that proved to be quite effective:

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA)
presiding bishop Rev. Elizabeth Eaton and quote:

"When my dad came back from the war, the GI bill meant he and
my mom could get a low interest loan. That was not available to
African American veterans. That's white privilege. It's baked into
the system. Now, we didn't create it, but if we don't work to
change it, we are complicit."

To see how I used it, see this post: "Personal Success Story"? "White Privilege"? or Both?

Here's a good post with more information about effective use of visuals: "Why you'll look at every photo in this post (but might not read it)"

(5) Using tweets to connect ... to what?

I think the single most valuable lesson I've learned about social media came to me via a Twitter follower:

"You can accomplish more if you link in your tweet
to a longer piece, such as a blog post you've written."

That advice helped me understand that, ideally, a tweet is not an end in itself -- it's connected to something bigger. (And, by the way, that advice gave me the idea to start a blog!)

Obviously, linking to some kind of longer post overcomes some of the problems posed by Twitter's 140 character limit.

And -- perhaps not so obviously -- linking to some other post of yours (such as a blog or Facebook post) allows you see a count of how many people view and/or like and/or comment on it. Such metrics are essential to beginning to judge effectiveness.

If nothing else, I hope some of the articles linked to in this post inspire everyone to go out and search for the abundant advice available online about how to use specific aspects of social media effectively!

Related posts

On November 11, 2015, Veterans for Peace had a message about reclaiming Armistice Day that proved itself massively spreadable on social media . . .

(See What will it take to reclaim Armistice Day for peace? )

Martin Luther spurred a miracle of movement building during the Reformation. (The printing press helped.) Just think what he might have done with social media!

(See ON SOCIAL MEDIA: Will a Renewed Church Require New Communications?)

What value might be obtained by having a really high quality "channel" on social media that people can tune in to for news and ideas about war abolition?

(See #NOwar - Permanently Trending on Twitter? YES! )

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

This Week: Effective Peace Activism

"Give me a lever and a place to stand . . . "

Every week I write a post to broadly summarize what I'm working on right now.

Fall is here, and every year I get a rush of energy when fall arrives. I feel like there's no limit to what I can do.

But, of course, there's so much each of us could do . . . the challenge is to make choices about where to put our time and energy.

I spent a lot of time over the summer thinking about how valuable it would be if every person involved in the peace movement dedicated themselves to the question, "How can I be more effective?"

For instance, that was the idea behind the suggestion to carve out 100 hours to get away from the election 2016 noise and think about your peace work.

That's also what led me to organize a list of key September peace events. We can't all be everywhere. But are there highly efficient ways to engage with, benefit from, and boost peace events -- even if they're happening far from where you live?

I think social media offers HUGE opportunities for increased effectiveness. Last week I wrote a little piece of agitation for faith-based activists on the topic of social media. This week perhaps I'll get into a little more detail about effective tactics . . . .  (Yes! seeSuggestions for Successful Twitter Activism!)

What's on your mind this week?