Peace Activism, Civil Disobediance & the Patriot Act: What you can and cant do
Patriotism and the Patriot Act
I supported the NATO prevention of civilian attacks in Libya. Once I saw that it was being abused for regime change - that we were replaying Iraq, I became outraged. As a boy, I interviewed my grandmothers and my great grandmother about our family history. now with the Internet, I uncovered the fact that on my fathers side, two of my g-g-g-g-g-grandfathers fought in perhaps the most important and least know early battle of the Revolution, the battle of Machias (1775), and on my mothers side, that my G-G-G Grandfathers fought through many of the bloodiest battles of the civil war, and one of these men's father married the widow of a lynched abolitionist. They were Northern Methodists, the backbone of the abolitionist movement. Also I found mental illness, family members variously murdered, swindled, massacred, and destroyed by alcoholism. You too if you can trace back a 100 years or so, will find many many amazing people and stories that constitute your heritage. Each hundred years back multiply by 12 and that's your forefathers. If you could go back 400 years you would have 20,000 great great great grand sires at that time. The blood of kings and queens and murderers and poets run in your veins - whoever you are.
We cannot take credit for their actions. We might not even like each other if we met for all a person knows. But it tells us something. They made a difference - they protected their children and their homes at least enough to let you come into existence. Now its your turn.
Once you realize what went into making you - and you feel the weight of the ages, you may find yourself asking - what can I do to contribute to the journey of humanity?
Soldiers are honored after death. Especially ones who participated in famous battles. But that is one tiny aspect of life. What can we do today? I found a story of a man who was kicked out of town for playing the fiddle on Sunday. These stories are just as interesting but harder to find sometimes. You see, playing the fiddle on Sunday was sometimes an act of civil disobedience.
Hiring people, teaching people, loving people and treating the earth and its life with respect is the answer that comes to mind in whatever order. Protecting people and life.
So what is the greatest contribution? Helping people find liberty and justice and peace.
Well if you are able to get a violent group to lay down their arms, according to the Patriot Act, you could lose your citizenship, have all your assets confiscated and be incarcerated.
Patriotism and the Patriot Act Part II
Postscript: One might be able to suffer all that, but what of the prospect of your children, stripped of all of your savings and your wage earning capability - you would be a jerk to risk that. But what if you felt that if you were part of a web of people trying to stop injustice that you just might add the momentum to halt one day of bloodshed somewhere - such as Libya, isn't that a horrible choice? Yet people have had to make that exact decision all over the world year in and year out.
The Civil War soldier who helped defeat slavery (or compel people to stay in a Union they no longer desired depending on who is writing the history of who) left his family traveling across the US for tens of years. Finally one day he rolled back in to his town. "Pappy's back" a young lady exclaimed. - Is that what you want for your children?
And we look at the modern soldier. How can a man feel at peace, when his Government does not have the intestinal fortitude even to bother to declare War. How does the soldier feel after he fights an enemy he truly believes is a just cause, and discovers it was based on CIA manipulations? He gets neither a personal feeling of honor in a really complete way, nor the satisfaction of being every night with his children, in the case where he chose not to serve.
No this man gets neither - and this must be a little taste of what PTSD must be like.
That civil war soldier could not have felt that much different than an Iraq War Veteran, because most of the great battles were very badly mismanaged - with horrendous unnecessary and needless suffering. I will never know why Anson Emera Alverson hit the road for a decade after the War, leaving behind his town and his family.
But - it is through sometimes historical biography that I find both inspiration and torment.
The modern soldier of freedom, or revolutionary, might be a volunteer at a hospice, or they might be someone writing or recording online - such as myself. We look at our hit counts, our followers and it starts to stink of narcissism and cowardice.
In Prison people who act like they are tough while safely in their cell - are called
"cell soldiers" - they cannot engage. The information warrior - all too often may be deluding themselves.
One starts to wish to challenge one's self. The only way you can really know whether you helped people see that "whats really going on is not what they are saying" is to see the person and hear them. Not look at hit counts and followers.
So I ask the guy at Ace Hardware "what do you think about the War in Libya?" This almost 3 months after our missiles launched sanitary by the British and the French have been raining down. "I didn't know there was a war in Libya" he tells me. I tell him Libya had equal rights for women, was secular, and had the best human development of any African country. And I tell he same thing to the checkout clerk. IT goes well. I am paraphrasing. But when I get to the guy at the gas station. I can't do it. I don't have the strength. This is going to take a lot longer than those Apache helicopters take!
When watching the American Media talking about American Policy, one can smell a silence of real debate. There is a sock puppet debate - like Kukla Fran and Ollie.
We are told "They" are Republicans. Selfish people who are miserly, and want to lock you up for being gay or smoking pot and invading your country if you are not white skinned.
We are told "They" are Democrats. They are dull people who don't know how to manage organizations effectively and by subsidizing failure - breed it.
Sometimes it seems they dutifully fall into their pre-ordained roles, nothing is discovered, except the theater of the pointless.
We now have the ability to reach across the world and see what the other side is saying.
When something smells rotten - when all you can smell is the same rotten scent in the Times, on the TV, on MSNBC , on FOX, on CNN on all of them, on BBC - Gaddafi bad! Rebels Good! Or whatever it is about - you can go a little farther out - Russia Today - good as long as you don't want to have real information about Russia! Press-TV! Good as long as you don't want real information about Iran! Oops! Obama gave Medvedev a 400 Million dollar order for helicopters in Afghanistan and WTO membership to throw one of Russia last cold war allies standing under the bus - well cant watch that anymore! Oh! Putin thinks it sucks! Sorry Obama - thanks for the helicopters - but me and Medvedev are going to do good cop bad cop. Well - at least now we can listen to Russia today again. Oh wait ! Obama is taking down the missile shield. No new points of view or info there anymore.... ok well this Iranian State TV is pretty different - they speak good English too! And they have some data !
Hey how about Al Jazeera they were the best for a while! Oh! They're owned by Qatar, and the Qatari Government is the only Arab country bombing Gaddafi - so we cant learn anything new there - we can just watch the heroic rebels - and the crimes of Gaddafi.
So as each source of alternate points of view is cut off - because there country made a deal with Britain or the US, we get annoyed - so we flip over to Dr Moussa Ibrahim. spokesman for the Gaddafi government, well now we heard a little bit from Press TV and Russia Today - so why not. Hey what he saying isn't all propaganda and lies - there's some real sentiments there along with the party line.
In the meantime - unbeknownst to you - The US puts Gaddafi on its terrorist list. It wasn't on it last week when you checked. So you send him a mail ; Hey Moussa - sorry were bombing you man - this sucks. Hey I know how you guys could get peace. Have the POPE COME OVER!!
Bang! - You now have broken the Patriot Act. You are in prison - they revoke your citizenship and confiscate your money and your house. And worst of all - your daughters don't know where you are for a month - then a year - then a decade.
That's the Patriot Act
Patriotism and the Patriot Act Part III
It has always seemed to me - that arguing was in order to discover something, not convince someone of your opinion. Once you are angry you cannot hear. Of course that is what I think when I'm not arguing. When I'm arguing, I struggle with my pride and my conceit and my prejudices.
Politically It is usually only when someone really amazing appears that I can hear another perspective - someone better spiritually. Someone with a consistent philosophy. But philosophies should evolve - so even that starts to rot after a while. For Mr Ron Paul - we ask - what of the poor - what of concentration of wealth? To say simply that Government makes it worse is not very reassuring. Why not fix Government? We elected Obama to do that - and now we are in a nightmare of our own creation. A man who claims to advocate progressive peaceful change - and seems to be deaf to their cries. So I at least throw in the towel. Lets try draining the breeding ground of police powers and corruption. If the corporations are to rob us - at least let us not give them our money through the Government to commit their deeds!
Of Mr Kucinich I think - thank you ! - my fear of being jailed for dissent in beginning to see that Gaddafi is a human being - not a monster - that in particular Kucinich's willingness to actually mention one of Gaddadi's Libya's accomplishments with the dull corporate media journalist - so greatly reduced my fear. It is courage to say to people the leader of a system you oppose should not be deposed by any other than his own people. But it is dangerous. To say "Gaddafi is a human being - not a monster" - can lead to your public humiliation forever. For me this at the moment revolves around - the use of Libya's wealth. Follow the money they say. Bill O'Reilly states Lockerbie justifies our invasion. Lockerbie is indeed one of the 2 nails - along with his pep talk to his followers at the beginning that was used to justify the "Peace Keeping" operation. This is a very difficult problem to process - in any way other than Mr O'Reilly has claimed. It stares us in the face. It was a long time ago. We have done much much worse things - at the end of the day - in Iraq and Vietnam, and at the beginning of the day with state violence unleashed based on disinformation. The Gulf Of Tonkin, the claims made about Iraq that were specious. If Bush did really believe there were WMDs and all the rest, then they were incompetent. Take your pick stupid or liars. There really is no other choice.\
The Iraq War destroyed the United States economically. We cannot invest in our children - instead they must - spend their lives repaying our debt. Instead of building great schools - privately or publicly - as if we used a private model - the vast majority would need something like a voucher - which we cannot afford to print. Instead we must send them to mediocre schools and then have them work to pay back our mistakes - and then perhaps their children will pay to build a great civilization - which in turn their children can actually reap the benefits of. Unless technology saves us -it is now a multi generational injury.