October 6th – Be There to Show YOU Care!

Sunday, 21. August 2011 23:27 | Author:

Preoccupied a bit with life lately, I’ve neglected my blog.  But, there’s something coming up, beginning on October 6th in Washington, DC that I can’t ignore.  October 2011 marks both the 10th anniversary (yes!  TEN YEARS!) of the US invasion of Afghanistan and the beginning of the 2012 federal austerity budget.  The organizers of October2011.org have planned what could be our nation’s own Tahrir Square – an occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington, DC that will continue until our politicians start thinking about and acting for ”human need, not corporate greed.”

This will be a nonviolent resistance and the organizers call on all who seek peace, economic justice, human rights and a healthy environment to be there.

Please read this from the www.october2011.org website:

The majority of the American people consistently support the following agenda:

  • Tax the rich and corporations
  • End the wars, bring the troops home, cut military spending
  • Protect the social safety net, strengthen Social Security and improved Medicare for all
  • End corporate welfare for oil companies and other big business interests
  • Transition to a clean energy economy, reverse environmental degradation
  • Protect worker rights including collective bargaining, create jobs and raise wages
  • Get money out of politics

The government, dominated by elite economic interests, is going in the opposite direction from what the people want.  The American people’s agenda is our agenda.

If YOU care about these things, about ending our wars, about taking care of our poor and elderly, about health care for all, and about our environment, please consider joining those who will be in DC on October 6th. 

It’s not at all cliche’ to say, our nation depends on it.

Please visit www.october2011.org for more information.

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Thanks for the Invite, President Obama

Wednesday, 15. June 2011 23:11 | Author:

Today I got an e-mail from barackobama.com asking me to donate $5 or more to his campaign.  With my donation, I’d be eligible to win a ticket to dinner with him as one of four lucky “supporters”.  He said he wanted my stories and ideas and invited me to share them with him if I was one of the four winners.

I didn’t donate, but I did go on the website to send my reply and share some of my ideas with him, anyway.  Thought I’d share them with you, too…

Dear President Obama,

Thank you for the opportunity to win a dinner with you.  It was so kind of you to invite me, however, I don’t have $5 to spare.  I lost my job and haven’t had much luck finding a new one.  Of course, with the job went my insurance.  Which makes me wonder if we really want to be the only industrialized country in the world that allows tens of thousands of our fellow Americans to die each year simply because they can’t afford health insurance?    Have you read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights lately? 

My mother is currently on hospice with terminal cancer.  She’s a beautiful, positive person and I enjoy every minute I’m able to spend with her.  Without Social Security and Medicare, she wouldn’t be with us today.   As President of these United States, Mr. Obama, why aren’t we hearing you speaking out against this insanity of cutting Social Security and Medicare?  Do you really want us all spending our twilight years searching for that elusive empty park bench or clean, quiet spot beneath the overpass?    

WE the people are not exclusively the top 1% of the population with all the money (and apparently, all the cards.)

And, why are our soldiers still killing and being killed across the globe?   Bush was undeniably a war criminal and should be behind bars for his crimes, but YOU, winner of the Nobel PEACE Prize for goodness’ sake, have outdone yourself in striving to surpass his bloody legacy.  Since you took office, US drone strikes in Pakistan have more than quadrupled.  We’re killing civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Libya.  And, over 6,000 of our own young men and women have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan – and with you keeping them there, this number will continue to rise.   

I could go on about FBI raids on the homes of peace activists, people being jailed without trial, and our loss of civil liberties and basic human rights but I know you’re busy trying to convince us that dropping bombs on Libya doesn’t violate the War Powers Resolution because it’s not REALLY a war – we’re just killing people again.  Nothing new, really.  Iraq wasn’t really a war, either – it was an occupation, so I can certainly see your point.  (I’m sure the Iraqis and Libyans would agree.)

We thought you’d bring change but it seems to be headed in the wrong direction.

Anyway, I guess you didn’t actually request an RSVP but I thought I’d take you up on the opportunity to share some of my stories and ideas since you asked. 

Oh, and thank you for the “invitation”. 

Sorry I didn’t have the $5 to accept it.

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Category:Iraq, Obama, Peace, Politics, US Foreign Policy | Comments (7)

No Cause for Rejoicing

Monday, 2. May 2011 21:46 | Author:

No, I can’t get teary-eyed at the passing of Osama bin Laden. 

But I am horrified and very saddened that anyone can rejoice, especially over the death of someone whose actions caused the loss of so many innocent lives, not only the 3,000 on 9/11, but the 6,000 US soldiers and the hundreds of thousands of men, women and children, husbands, wives, sisters, brothers, and babies, in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan who’ve died since that September day.  As a Christian and simply as a human being, I won’t ever rejoice over the death of another, but this death so much more than most, should bring to mind many more lives that have been lost.

Did those same people who are rejoicing today shed any tears over the brutal deaths of the thousands upon thousands of innocent civilians, mostly children, who’ve died in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11?

They weren’t terrorists; we should have cried.

Did those rejoicing today cry at the loss of innocent Pakistani lives from that most vicious of murdering machines, the unmanned drone? 

They weren’t terrorists; we should have cried.

Have we shed any tears over the fact that, in our pursuit of “evil” we’ve rained terror on families, children and entire nations, becoming terrorists ourselves in our quest for vengeance? 

We’ve shed many tears, justifiably, for the American lives lost on that September day a decade ago, but have we cried for those lives lost since then?

No, I can’t cry over the passing of Osama bin Laden.  But what about over the fear and violence we’ve spread in so many innocent hearts as we kick down doors and invade homes, guns drawn, shouting orders in a foreign tongue to families, exhausted and weary from the destruction of their lands and lives? 

Can we cry for our young men and women, mostly poor or minorities, who’ve entered the military for a way to fund an education they couldn’t afford and end up with a choice of having to kill or be killed, for a war based on lies?   Have we cried over the 600 billion dollars a year we spend to kill people, but not to educate our young or provide healthcare for our poor, jobs for our unemployed, homes to our homeless or comfort to our sick and elderly?

I can’t cry and I can’t rejoice over bin Laden’s death.  The only way that his death could possibly be cause for rejoicing were if it were to signify the end of the violence, the grounding of the drones, our soldiers coming home and a focus on our nation’s unemployed, homeless, uninsured, and poor.  The only way that his death could possibly be a cause for rejoicing would be if it helped bring Peace to the world.   

But that would have to start with us.  And first we’d have to learn how to cry.

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Nonviolent Insistence!

Friday, 18. March 2011 0:04 | Author:

Many, many thanks to my friend, inspiration, and guest author Beth DeLap for this important post.  Please read, watch the attached video, and join us on March 19th!  Below is Salee Allawe (read “Salee’s Got New Legs” for more info) and author Beth DeLap enjoying some time together in Greenville, South Carolina – March, 2011.

Salee and Author, Beth DeLap

Cooler weather means more time in the house, and that means more time on Facebook with its myriad links and videos and soundbites.  You can “Facebook” for hours, and that’s exactly what I did this evening.  Now I should be going to bed, but not until I get this down. 

Somewhere on someone’s Facebook commentary, I found the link below and felt inspired.  The young man is so real, with his soft face and the uncertain movements of the camera, the din in the background, together with his credentials as a military person.  He’s suggesting that we, like the people of Egypt, really CAN make a difference by demonstrating with our whole heart, and he invites us to join him March 19th to insist on the end to what he calls “endless war.”  To insist upon it.  Nonviolently, like the Egyptians. 

He suggests that maybe that is really not such a fantastic fantasy… that we might bring about the end, or the virtual end, of the collective mental illness we call war. 

Reading and watching the video journals of ordinary Iraqis you see how disenfranchised they feel from their new “democratic” government.  The “democracy” that was violently forced on the country continues to be government-by-force… which is not a democracy, no matter how loudly you proclaim it to be so.  The Iraqi people still live (and countless die) not under democracy but under the “law” of brutality and injustice, the law of “might makes right” upon which W. based his illegal and brutal invasion.  The fact that Obama’s presentation is less hateful and pugnacious than W.’s does nothing to take away a parent’s grief at the loss of his child in uniform, or a Pakistani child’s grief at the loss of her mother to a drone attack.

When our strong nation’s example to the rest of the world is  “might makes right,” why wouldn’t others aspire to the same?  Is it not a miracle when they don’t… for example, in Egypt, where a peaceful revolution was accomplished by the collective effort of ordinary citizens.  It’s for us to stand up and notice their good example.

I don’t think of myself as a left-wing nut.    But because I thought this youtube was useful and worth sharing, there are some who will think I am.  I have something to say about that.  Over my years I have been privileged to engage in hundreds of conversations with many different people, good people who have polar opposite ideas about God, politics, how people should act.  But no matter how opposite, we always have one thing in common–our amazement, horror, and indignation that other people don’t see it our way.   In our country, more and more, we Republicans and Democrats are like that.  We call each other right wing, left wing, nut, fanatic, etc.  Bottom line is that we want to live, and that means we don’t want our identity/culture taken away by someone stronger, some bully who insists that they, not we, are right.  If I want to read the New Yorker, let me.  If I thump my Bible, let me.  And let me raise my kids to do the same.  That’s not so difficult, and it’s actually the story of humankind, getting along in spite of differences, sometimes huge differences. That’s the foundation for a healthy democracy, that’s what makes for a vibrant community–our differences.   America will continue to be a wonderful, hot, bubbling melting pot.  At the moment we’re giving birth to Reform Islam, among so many other things.  People come here to change, whether they know it or not.  It’s the story of our country.  We learn and change together. 

The threat isn’t that others will come here and change us!  The threat is that we will do to ourselves what we fear–we will close up our minds and become rigid fundamentalist violent scaredy-cats, whether on the left or the right.

I really have to scratch my head, wondering what is it that gets us so fired up–so feared up–that we forget how easy it is to get along, and begin wringing our hands and pointing our fingers and grabbing our guns and hopping around like a band of wild monkeys?  I suppose at the end of the day (the year, the century, the millennium)  it’s the same old culprit.  The escalation to war is about money, the greed of a few people who are super good at manipulating the rest of us.  It’s an old scam.  “Let’s you and him fight.”  Politicians are salespeople.  The W. Bush “commercial” about weapons of mass destruction ran continuously on our tv screens until we were sold the war that enriched all of W.’s good friends, but left our country as broke as it’s ever been financially and otherwise.  We ordinary citizens, here and in Iraq, will be paying for their bounty for generations to come.

But we are decent beings and more and more of us are doing away with the television, the soundbites, the commercials, the STUFF.  We are curious, smart, and by nature designed to grow and learn.  War is becoming old-fashioned in the age of information.  We  can’t help but insist that together we will create superior methods for solving our problems and bridging our conflicts.   The life-saving strategy of our world family’s future will be one of “endless diplomacy” and patience and reaching out to each other.  Soon war will look like cave man days.  “How can I explain it Susie?  It was totally self-destructive, but people used to do that.”  What a peculiar thing to do to each other when there are plenty of other options, endless options.

I am sorry that you will have to suffer, Halliburton and the oil industry (war is oil’s biggest customer), but you won’t wither and die when war becomes a thing of the past.  You’ll survive in some less malignant form even as the rest of us refuse to blow each other up.  Don’t dismay, owners of service stations, and Republicans, and Democrats for the war, and war Christians, and peace protesters, and self-righteous writers of letters to the editor, and you career military folks on the brink of retirement, all of you with your strong views and your need to be needed.  We love you.  We’ve bought gas from you, and grown up with you, and marched with you, and voted for/against you.  We have read your editorials and we have written back.  We ARE you.  No need for anybody to be left behind. 

We’ll figure it out together.  That’s what people do — when they don’t have bombs falling on them.

It really is my bedtime so I’ll just say this about March 19th.  Let’s show up, bright and energetic, our best, most beautiful selves, and be counted in just that way on that day.  Let’s be wholeheartedly nonviolent as we insist on nonviolence.  And let’s call it a celebration rather than a demonstration.  We are celebrating our collective intelligence, power, decency and hope on March 19th.  Across the globe, ordinary people have these things in common.  (Even when we appear to be polar opposites, calling God by some weird name for example, or driving on the wrong side of the road.) 

I love my brothers and sisters, my sons and daughters, civilians and soldiers alike.  I love them too much to stay home on March 19th.  I happen to be invited to a birthday party on that day, and I’ll tell you, that’s going to fit right in.

G’night, y’all.  — Beth DeLap, The Whole Salamander

(Here’s the YOUTUBE)             www.youtube.com/watch

(AND HERE’S OUR STOREFRONT)              stores.lulu.com/store.php

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Category:Iraq, No More Victims, Peace, Salee, Uncategorized, US Foreign Policy | Comment (0)

Salee’s Got New Legs!

Wednesday, 23. February 2011 18:20 | Author:

Probably most of you reading this will know about Salee Allawe.  Salee lost both of her legs to a US air strike in Iraq in 2006, while outside playing hopscotch with her siblings and friends.  Her brother and best friend were killed and her little sister was also injured.  In 2007, No More Victims brought Salee to Greenville, South Carolina’s Shriners Hospital for new legs and she comes back every year to 18 months for new prosthetics as she grows. 

Now, thanks to so many of you who donated to help, her treatment is in process and she’s beginning to walk comfortably as she receives care once again at Shriners.  Ronald McDonald House of Greenville, truly their “home away from home”, has welcomed Salee and her father Hussein, (affectionately known as Abu Ali), once again, with open arms. 

Community organizers, friends and NMV volunteers in the Greenville area say that Salee’s English has vastly improved (it’s her favorite subject at school) and that her sense of humor and ready laugh hasn’t changed a bit.  She still wants to be a doctor when she grows up, an occupation that I feel sure was inspired by her wonderful doctors in Iraq who saved her life after the air strike, working with very few supplies and within a medical infrastructure devastated by the invasion of their country, and her kind and caring doctors at Shriners Hospital in Greenville (especially her favorite and much-loved prosthetist, “Dr. Ed” who’s currently recovering from surgery, himself) who donate their services to children in need, everywhere.  

Thank you again to each of you for all you do for Salee and the war-injured children of Iraq, and for a message of Peace!  No More Victims can still use your help; if you are able and have a chance, please donate .  If you’re not able to donate monetarily but are in the Greenville area, we encourage you to meet Salee and her father – they are beautiful Ambassadors of Peace and reminders that we are all one human family.

Photo Courtesy of Ted Christian

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I Miss You, Dad!

Monday, 7. February 2011 2:20 | Author:

…. this is what I wrote about my father after the last time Christie, John and I visited him, not knowing it would literally be the last time we’d see him.  My sweet Cole read it at Dad’s funeral….missing Dad today.

Thoughts on Dad

My brother Jerry recently sent an e-mail to me and my siblings about Dad and used the word “capable”.  I think that describes Dad so perfectly and in the most positive sense of the word.  Dad was capable.  Growing up we never had to worry about being taken care of – having enough food to eat, a roof over our heads, and a comfortable home.  And, that’s a big deal.  Children shouldn’t have to worry about money or where they’re going to get their next meal and Dad was a provider, proud of it, and rightly so.  I couldn’t be more grateful to him for that.

He was also funny.  I remember as a little girl being outside playing with the neighborhood children when he got home from work, how he’d come up and make everyone laugh.  I remember feeling a little child’s pride that my daddy was the silly one who could make the other kids giggle!

He was the ultimate explorer!  Dad loved to travel, even if it was just down a dirt road that he’d never been down before.   He would revel in playing “Jose’ the Tour Guide” as he called it when we were all grown and would come to visit.  He just loved seeing new things, touring far-away cities, and wide-open spaces!  He loved Nature, national parks, and animals.  And I know all of my brothers remember we couldn’t pass a cow pasture as children without him pulling over to the shoulder for him to converse a while as we’d roll our eyes.  Or that he threatened that we wouldn’t be allowed to pass over the Mississippi River if we couldn’t spell Mississippi; I remember hours of practicing in the car, “M – I – crooked letter – crooked letter – I – crooked letter – crooked letter – I – humpback – humpback – I”…..  (so we made it!)

He LOVED dogs!  Dad always had a dog and anyone who had the audacity to sit in the front passenger seat of the car when going anywhere with Dad had to be prepared for a slobbery, pawing canine reprimand from the back seat – you might even have a large Dalmatian or Lab end up in your lap!  Smart companions would just surrender and sit in the back.  

Dad loved his kids.  He was proud of Ronny and his family – his sweet wife Mary and all his grandkids (and loved to count to make sure none were missing!).  He loved to hear what each of them was doing, working on, majoring in.  He was proud of John and his love of nature, his work with plants, and his ability to fix anything that was broken!  (He’d gone from being the “Great Destroyer” as a child to the “Great Repairer” as an adult!)  He was proud of Jerry and glad that he had found the love of his life in Belinda.  Of the four of us, I can pretty safely say that Jerry was the only one whose advice Dad would take (poor Jerry!)  And I know he loved me – he even named those big waves in the ocean that you have to jump to avoid or they’ll knock you down after me – they’re “Anniers” you know!

He loved my son, Christie.  My happiest memories of Christie and Dad (who Christie calls “Bobble”) are listening from another room to the two of them stretched out on the bed side by side, watching some big sports event on TV.  They were both major sports fans and they’d laugh and hoot and holler, one noisier than the next, and both feeding off and increasing the amplification of the other!  They adored each other.

He adored his sister, Mary Frances and some of my favorite childhood memories were at Aunt MF and Uncle Willy’s (as my dad affectionately called him) big, wonderful cottage on Lake Michigan.  He loved my aunt and uncle’s kids too, my cousins, Kaki, Tom and Nancy.

And he loved his wife, Ruth.  I remember the day that he told me about Ruth.  We were in his study in South Carolina; he was sitting at his big desk that was always piled with papers.  I’m sure we were just making small talk as Dad wasn’t a big one for long, heart-to-heart conversation so it took me by surprise when he suddenly turned to me and said, “I’m taking a trip to Europe and here’s who I’m going with” and proudly reached out to hand me a photo of Ruth.   He told me her name and that they’d known each other since they were children and it made my heart happy to see him so proud and in love!  And I’m grateful to Ruth for making these years happy for him; she’s been an angel and I’m blessed to have her as a step-mother.

I wish that I’d had more time with him.  I wish that I’d taken more time to talk to him, to ask his advice, to ask what he thought about things.  I wish I’d have told him how much it meant to me to have a father who always kept us feeling safe and protected, fed and loved.  I wish that he’d had more time with Cole –

My Dad was so strong and had so much pride.  And, every day of my life I could relax in the comfort that if anything ever got really, really bad or if I was ever truly in need and had no one to turn to, he’d always help – he’d always be there for me and take care of things in his capable way.  I’ll miss the comfort of that.  I’ll miss my Dad.

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Slide Over, Sphinx!

Saturday, 5. February 2011 1:45 | Author:

 

OK, I’m not a historian or a scholar — what I know about Egypt could fit on Sarah Palin’s “palmeprompter” — but I do know that an overwhelming feeling of awe fills my heart when watching the massive throngs of courageous humanity in the streets of its cities. 

I know that at age 7, my son, mystified by the magic of mummies, tombs and pyramids, decided he wanted to be an Egyptologist when he grew up, and dragged me to the King Tut exhibit when it came to our state. He read every word of every exhibit’s placard, enthralled by the history of this great nation.

I know that Egypt is the second-largest beneficiary of our nation’s generosity, our military aid, second only to Israel.  This “aid” has averaged over 2 billion dollars annually for the last thirty-plus years, and when tear gas canisters are thrown or weapons fired upon the protestors, our hands are also bloodied.

I know that Mubarak ruled as a dictator for 30 years, oppressing his people (20% living below the poverty level), and validating heinous acts of torture as routine punishment.  I know that the United States has taken advantage of this disciplinary “option”, sending captives to his “prisons” through our rendition policy with Egypt.

I know that this massive movement, this Revolution, is that of the Egyptian people’s alone.  We can “attend” internet virtual marches, demonstrate in solidarity in our streets, and sign petitions of support, but this isn’t our fight — it’s theirs - and we should benefit and learn from this Egyptian inspiration. With over 50 million people in our nation without healthcare, countless homeless sleeping in our streets (around 82,000 on any given night in Los Angeles County alone), constant cuts to veteran’s benefits, literally millions of US homeowners in foreclosure and threats to cut Social Security, we have reason to join together and mobilize for change.

The events of the past week have truly been courageous and inspirational. 

So, slide over, Sphinx. 

Make room for Egypt’s greatest treasure — its people.

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Category:Egypt, Peace, Politics, protest, sarah palin, US Foreign Policy | Comments (2)

MLK, the DoD and the Good Samaritan

Saturday, 22. January 2011 4:36 | Author:

I’d seen the headlines but simply didn’t want to read the articles. You know the ones I mean?  Where the Defense Department’s general counsel claims that Martin Luther King would have “understood” our need to invade and occupy other people’s countries, terrorize their citizens, and kill their children?  What a way to commemorate this man of peace and love, but to say that if he were alive today, he’d realize he was all wrong, that he’d turn his back on his moral and religious values and decide that violence and hate were the solutions after all.

This morning a friend sent me the link to the article  on the Defense Department’s website and I succumbed and actually read it. I was more disheartened than I could have imagined. As if the “If he were alive today” blasphemy weren’t bad enough, Jeh Johnson, the general counsel who made the remarks in a keynote address on MLK for which he received a certificate of appreciation from the DoD, compared today’s troops to the Good Samaritan of the Bible.

Volunteers in today’s military, he said, “have made the conscious decision to travel a dangerous road and personally stop and administer aid to those who want peace, freedom and a better place in Iraq, in Afghanistan…”

Anyone who believes that the Iraqis and Afghanis consider our troops akin to the “Good Samaritan” deserves the Sarah Palin Award for Gullibility, and that special gold (from Glenn Beck’s personal stash) medal with “Don’t Retreat, Reload” skillfully engraved just below that aptly placed surveyor’s symbol.

As many of you reading my blog know, my husband Cole started No More Victims, a small non-profit in 2002,  just prior to the invasion and occupation of Iraq.   NMV pairs war-injured Iraqi children with communities across the country for medical care, in an effort to spread an awareness that will help to educate and advocate for Peace.  We’re currently in the process of bringing 13 year old Salee Allawe back to South Carolina for her third pair of prosthetic legs.  Salee lost her legs to a US air strike while playing hopscotch in her backyard in 2006.  She not only lost her legs, but her best friend and brother, as well.  Somehow, as kind and forgiving as Salee’s family is, I don’t think that by any stretch of the imagination they’d consider the dropping of that bomb on a group of children at play to be a shining example of that touching Biblical parable of compassion.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I simply don’t believe Mr. Johnson’s comparison works, either for Martin Luther King or for our nation’s invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. If our government thinks that we are so easily misled that we can believe that destroying other people’s countries and killing their children is an act of kindness, isn’t it about time that we stood up and told them we’re not that dumb!?

Sorry, but we’re not dumb enough to believe that it’s healthy

  •  to have 50 million people without health care,
  • to have a government that cares more about tax cuts for the super-rich than the increasing numbers of homeless lying in our streets,
  • that thinks the solution to a madman’s killing spree is not better mental health care but to arm more madmen with ever more lethal weapons,
  • and that Sarah was really looking for land to buy and those weren’t crosshairs on that map.

We’re not dumb enough to believe that Martin Luther King would approve of our invasions of other people’s countries, our destruction of their homes, our maiming and murder of their children, the torture of their men,  and the suspension of habeas corpus.  We don’t buy it and we don’t believe it. Let’s truly honor the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr this year and work to make this a more just and peaceful nation.

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Category:Iraq, No More Victims, Peace, Politics, Salee, Uncategorized, US Foreign Policy | Comments (1)

Happy Birthday, Rev. King! Let This Be the Year…

Monday, 17. January 2011 19:02 | Author:

Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor in America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours. 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,  The Trumpet of Conscience, 1967.

How his words resonate with truth today.  We only need change the word “Vietnam” to “Iraq”, “Afghanistan” or “Pakistan” to realize that these words from 44 years ago could have been spoken with the same meaning this morning.  We have laid waste again to the lands of others, killing their children and destroying their lives, and again our nation has suffered as money spent to kill is taken from the mouths of our poor.

Let us pray that this be the year that we rise up as a nation and speak and act the love that was Martin Luther King’s dream; let this be the year that we stand together and, in unified voice, tell our leaders that we “ain’t gonna study war no more”.

Let this be the year that we reach out to the needy with compassion and in service, that we speak with kindness, that we pass laws that help instead of hurt our poor, suffering, homeless and sick, that we welcome the immigrant, and that we end the wars.  Let this be the year that we live the lessons of Dr. King, not just today, but every day. 

Let this be the year that we heal.

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Category:Iraq, New Year, Peace, Uncategorized | Comments (1)

“Just pick up a paper!” – Another Reason to Thank Wikileaks

Thursday, 6. January 2011 19:35 | Author:

OK, at this point, anyone who really wants to read the news online knows not to rely entirely on any of our own nation’s network’s sites (though to give credit where it’s due– if you’re still interested in the debate over President Obama’s place of birth and have some doubt whether Hawaii is actually a state or not, or need an update on the emotional impact to Britney Spears when she stubbed her big toe tripping delightedly down Rodeo Drive laden with shopping bags, we’re the best.)  We know that FoxNews doesn’t even remotely resemble real “news” and studies have shown that we don’t get any smarter or more informed if we watch its constant stream of manic misinformation, but truth be told, viewers of the rest of our country’s major networks didn’t fare too well themselves when polled on current issues.

There is real news online from other parts of the world. Der Spiegel, The Guardian, and Al-Jazeera  host just a few of the wonderful sites that offer real world news.  I remember working in a German company in South Carolina for many years where young German engineering interns would come to work for months at a time.  There was always a shocked adjustment period when, after reading our newspapers and watching our nightly news, they realized that Americans weren’t actually getting the news.  Shortly after the initial invasion of Iraq, I remember one new German friend looking at me and saying, “People here really have no idea what you’re doing in Iraq or the rest of the world, do they?” 

It’s embarrassing, but true.  We are propagandized but refuse to yank the wool off of our eyes.  Unknowingly being lied to is one thing, but to see an entire nation being fed propaganda from a Styrofoam plate on a plastic McDonald’s tray, and have them respond to the life-threatening fare by licking their lips and lining up for seconds is truly disheartening.

It reminds me of our war criminal bestselling author ex-President who, prior to the invasion of Iraq, would repeatedly play the role of magician.  I so well remember those days when, standing before us in his top hat and black suit, he’d effortlessly slide a white-gloved hand into a lint-less pocket to pull out a dozen brightly colored ribbons.  He’d clasp his hands together, swatches of cloth inside, spin on his heels three times quickly while saying the words “Iraq” and “9/11” over and over and – VOILA! – he’d open his hands and out would come one long beautiful cloth!  (Seriously, no matter how many times Bush said the words “Iraq” and “9/11” in the same sentence, there was no connection – yet, our news fed it to us and we swallowed it with a satisfied burp.)

We joyfully fill out Medicare applications then take to the streets carrying signs saying “Keep government hands off our health insurance”.  We have more people in this country without health care than the entire population of Spain and we fight AGAINST a plan to insure us all!  We scream about taxes and gladly hand over tax cuts to the wealthiest among us….. as they go smiling all the way to the banks (which, of course, they own).  We proudly send our sons and daughters off to kill and be killed in lands that we couldn’t find on a map, and whose people did absolutely nothing to warrant our attacks (see paragraph 4 which also applies to Afghanistan and Pakistan…)

If we had real news, we’d be informed.  We’d have health care for everyone; we wouldn’t give tax cuts to the top 2% wealthiest Americans when we have homeless and hungry in our streets and record numbers of foreclosures every day.  We wouldn’t be spending billions of dollars killing people, people just like us, in faraway lands.  We wouldn’t be using the torture that is solitary confinement on Bradley Manning, a young man who has yet to be convicted of a crime, or the thousands of other inmates in solitary confinement in Supermax prisons across this country.

If we had real news, we’d know that we’re not always the good guy.

And why did I start this rant?  Because, in the process of preparing to bring Salee (a young Iraqi girl whose legs were blown off in a US air strike) here for her third pair of legs, a friend was on the phone with an Iraqi woman from an international mail office in Baghdad regarding Salee and her father’s passports.  This incredibly helpful woman mentioned that it’d take Salee’s father, Abu Ali, about two hours to get to her office by car.  Our friend asked why, since Salee’s town and the office aren’t far away from each other.  The woman replied simply, “Just pick up a paper!” 

She told him that there were so many checkpoints now that even a short distance could take hours in travel time.  She assumed we’d know that, but then again, most of the world probably does.  (We, of course, have thoroughly digested the story that we’ve left Iraq and moved on to other things, important things like the results of FoxNews’ online poll as to whether we’d continue shopping at a store that wished people “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”….)

Thank you to Wikileaks for exposing the real news.  Wikileaks has set the bar to “truth”.  It would be nice if someday, in the not too distant future, we could “Just pick up a paper” and in doing so, actually learn something.

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Category:Iraq, No More Victims, Peace, Politics, Salee | Comments (7)