Working towards peace and sustainability

Congress Needs to Hear from Us on the Climate--Letters Ready to Go.

As you surely know, Donald Trump has appointed a collection of climate change deniers and dismissers to key positions in his administration. And, sadly, the Senate has confirmed them. Most egregious, perhaps, is Scott Pruitt, who, as Oklahoma Attorney General has sued the EPA 14 times, and now is the EPA Administrator. We are very concerned that the Trump-Pruitt Agenda will entail scrapping both the EPA Clean Power Plan (which Pruitt sued to stop) and the Paris Climate Accord (which Trump pledged to withdraw the U.S. from). It is now up to us to try our best to convince Congress to protect the very modest climate gains made during the eight years Obama was in office.

WRITING CONGRESS:  What we’ve been told is that it is much more effective to send a letter than to just make a comment on-line. Moreover, letters sent to district offices, rather than those in DC, are actually processed faster and seen sooner than those sent to Washington.

In order to facilitate getting lots of letters sent in we have created model letters and posted these in PDF format. To access them, just CLICK HERE.

There are three ways you can make use of these. The easiest is to print them out. Sign them. Print your name and your address below, and send them off. If you would like to personalize them, you can copy the text of the letters, paste it into a Word document, and then edit this to reflect your concerns. Or you can just use the addresses, start from scratch and write your own letter.

Whichever way works best for you, please take action. The simple print, sign and mail approach will take less than 10 minutes. Please note that it is important to thank Sen. Claire McCaskill for her votes against Pruitt and Tillerson, and to encourage her to become a climate action leader. It is also important to include your address, first of all, so they know you’re their constituent and also so they can write back.

Finally, there are two letters to the Senators—McCaskill and Blunt—and it’s important to send both of these. Following this, there are three letters to members of the House—either Hartzler, Luetkemeyer or Graves—and you should only send one of these. If you’re not sure who your rep is, you can CLICK HERE to find out. Just go to this page and the Rep Finder is on the upper right of the page.

Defusing These Threats: Resisting the Trump Agenda

Thirty-five years ago a group of mid-Missourians—some young, some older—from diverse backgrounds, came together to form the organization that later became Peaceworks. In our earliest years we were part of the Nuclear Freeze movement, focused on ending the arms race. In the later 1980s we expanded this focus to include peace concerns more broadly, and by 1990 we were addressing social justice and sustainability concerns, as well.

When, in the early 1990s, we created a new mission statement, which included the following:

“Peaceworks is sensitive to the interconnectedness of all on this planet, and conscious of the multiple threats to survival.  A primary mission of our organization is opposing and defusing these threats.”

In recent years much of our work has focused on addressing the Climate Crisis, a primary threat to life on our planet. Now with Trump in the White House, we face dual existential dangers of climate change and nuclear weapons.

The rise of Donald Trump, with his stated intent to pursue a major increase in fossil fuel production and a roll-back of the modest steps forward on climate taken under Barak Obama, represents a grave threat to our survival. Likewise Trump’s loose talk about using nuclear weapons, welcoming their proliferation and inviting a new arms race, gives us serious pause. If these were our only concerns, we’d be calling for resistance to the Trump agenda. But there are many other reasons to oppose normalizing this most pernicious of administrations.

We also recognize that his autocratic, hyper-nationalist approach to governance looks a lot like neo-fascism and may represent an existential threat to the republic, if not our very survival. We have written about this in a short article you can access HERE. And we recognize the threat Trump’s ascendance poses to many constituencies under fire, including Muslims, undocumented people, people of color, LGBTQ people, other minorities and women. We address this in another short article HERE.

Trump & the Climate:

While Trump has been less than consistent in his statements on climate change, it is clear from his appointments and his campaign promises that he is no friend of the climate. Key figures in his administration either deny anthropogenic climate change entirely, or deny the need for action.

Trump seems intent on canceling the EPA Clean Power Plan. He has pledged to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement. And he has issued an order calling for full speed ahead on pipeline construction, including DAPL and KXL.

Last September, candidate Trump spoke at the Shale Insight Conference in Pittsburgh. He told the industry execs “Oh, you will like me so much,” as he promised to cut regulations and expedite fracking and coal extraction. Trump has personally invested in the industry and clearly does not recognize the threat posed by the failure to rapidly phase out dirty, climate-altering energy sources.

Peaceworks’ response is to double down on our advocacy and educational efforts. We made sure the Climate Crisis was a major focus of the January 21 Solidarity March and will continue to make climate concerns visible in the streets as well as in op-eds and other forms of public advocacy. We are also revamping our Climate Action Speakers Bureau and seeking opportunities to speak to organizations, classes, houses of worship, etc.

Trump on War & Militarism:

Some people were hopeful that, despite his other flaws, Trump might be less interventionist than Hillary Clinton. His initial appearances on the world stage, however, have shown our new president to be an inexperienced, hot-headed novice. Some phone conversations with foreign leaders have been rocky, including Trump threatening to send the U.S. military into Mexico, when talking with their president. His pledge to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, and his rejection of the One-China policy in regard to Taiwan, both bode poorly for peace in these two tinderbox regions.

With regard to nuclear weapons, in December Trump tweeted that the U.S. “must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability,” and later said in an interview “Let it be an arms race ... we will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.” This proposed expansion is on top of a trillion dollar, three-decade nuclear “modernization” program advanced by President Obama.

The nuclear buildup and Trump’s suggestion that he would favor more nuclear-armed nations, including Japan and South Korea, are deeply disturbing. So, frankly, is the notion that someone as seemingly unstable as Donald Trump has his finger on the nuclear trigger.
Trump also campaigned on the notion that the U.S. military had been eviscerated under Obama. Despite the fact that the U.S. outspends the next seven biggest spenders on the military combined, and the fact that most of those seven are close allies, Trump has claimed “Our military is depleted,” and declared the most powerful military in the world to be “gutted.” He then promised to beef-up the forces by increasing the already bloated Pentagon budget.
Also deeply disturbing is the likely impact of the Muslim/refugee travel ban. Besides adversely affecting many people, it is probable that this will only increase antipathy towards Americans and help ISIS and al Qaeda recruit.  It almost seems that Trump is goading extremists to attack U.S. targets, which, if they do, will only fuel fear and enable more violent responses. Consider this in the context of Trump’s National Security Advisor, Michael Flynn, being an extreme Islamophobe, and his Chief Strategist, Steven Bannon, who shares similar perspectives, having been recently elevated to the National Security Council’s Principals Committee.

Further, the Trump proposal to create “safe zones” in Syria prompts concern over growing U.S. deployments to the region and the possibility of direct military conflict with the Russians, who also have troops in Syria. This would put the U.S. and Russia closer to armed conflict than at any time in since 1973.

Peaceworks will continue to advocate for a sane foreign policy; for negotiated resolution to conflicts; for mutual, verifiable and incremental disarmament; and for the redirection of resources currently squandered on war and militarism to create a sustainable and prosperous future for all. We will educate the public and challenge our elected officials to act in the interest of the people, not the Military-Industrial Complex. Further, we will continue to deny the normalcy of a president who, on his first full day in office, in a talk to CIA staff in Langley, said, with regard to Iraq, “we should have kept the oil, but, OK, maybe we’ll have another chance.”  

Say “Yes!” to Respect. Say “No!” to Trump’s Agenda.

Please Scroll down for info regarding the upcoming rallies and the march.
Perhaps you share the sense that one chapter of our National Nightmare is coming to a close, but another is just beginning? Do you feel stuck in a bad dream you can’t get out of; feeling frozen in place, seeing danger approach but unable to move? 

Well, we at Peaceworks are not asleep at the switch. We are awake, clear of mind and not willing to accept a passive role. Rather, we aim to come together and, to as great an extent as possible, create our shared destiny. And we will do this through active engagement, addressing frontally the challenges we face. And we will reach out to our neighbors and our fellow citizens to build a progressive majority that can turn things around. We invite and encourage you to join us in this effort.

Some have asked, “Why not give Trump a chance?” The answer should be obvious.

First, we have watched this man campaign for a year and a half. We have seen an abusive individual who treats others with profound disrespect. He has the personality of a thin-skinned, self-aggrandizing tyrant. Donald Trump shows zero respect for women. Rather, he objectifies them constantly. He belittles those with disabilities; scapegoats minorities; bullies those who disagree with him; and tries to cow the media into subservience.

Trump launched his campaign with xenophobic ranting about Mexicans being rapists and thieves and nonsensical visions of a Great Wall. He released a list of prospective court nominees that is enough to make any civil libertarian’s skin crawl. He has talked about banning Muslims and now says he’s seriously considering a Muslim registry. He’s claimed that Climate Change—arguably the greatest threat to our survival—is a hoax, and has embraced the sick notion that nuclear weapons proliferation is OK, while endorsing the pursuit of a new nuclear arms race.

But, let us be clear, it is not just his campaign rhetoric or his abusive, disrespectful style, his anti-intellectualism or his grandiosity that troubles us. Rather, it is the people he’s appointed to lead the executive branch of our government and their track records that makes it crystal clear that his agenda is wrong for our nation on just about every front.

While space does not allow a thoroughgoing review of his appointees, we should note that his cabinet, as nominated, is chocked full of extreme views and extreme wealth. It is top-heavy with generals/militarists. And, ironically, after campaigning against Goldman Sachs, he’s appointed three from this financial behemoth to top positions in his administration.

Many Trump appointees have either no experience in the area their agency operates in, or, worse yet, have actively campaigned against the agency’s mission. Several have actually called for abolishing the sector of government they will soon be in charge of, unless their nominations are stopped.

Knowing the positions they embrace and the biases they carry, we can say, from the get-go that a big part of our mission will be actively speaking out against what they are aiming to do. We must convince as many of our elected officials as possible to put the brakes on their efforts to steamroll through so-called “reforms” that actually represent the destruction of so much of what we value and need.

We are talking here about everything from healthcare/ACA, Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security to the funding of education. We’re looking at huge, windfall tax cuts for the 1% that will leave our government without the funding to pay for essential services. We’re deeply concerned about the possible deportation of millions, dividing families and tearing apart communities.

We’re speaking out against the commitment to dramatically increase military spending, the bellicose approach to some countries including Iran and China, and the misguided promise to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, something almost certain to put the kibosh on any efforts to peacefully settle the conflict there. And, of course, we’re talking about the Climate Crisis and Trump’s stated intention to end the EPA Clean Power Plan and withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement.

If you’re feeling small, and if reading this leaves you feeling overwhelmed, we understand, but this is no time to throw up our hands and give up. No, not at all. Now is the time when redoubling our efforts is essential. Now is the time for us to be out marching in large numbers. Now is the time to be holding public meetings; to be going to town halls and to the offices of elected officials. Now is the time for door-to-door outreach. Now is the time for public education; for agitation; for organizing; for impressing upon our fellow citizens what it is we truly need and for working night and day to achieve it. Now is the time to build coalitions. Now is the time for activism; for active resistance.

Now is the time to build a culture of resistance and of mutual respect.  Now is the time to embrace and celebrate our diversity. Now is the time to be respectful of nature and the ecological balances. Now is the time to see the worth in all, even the humblest among us. Now is the time to respond to each other with kindness, not derision. Now is the time to respect our neighbors; those down the block, as well as those around the world. Let us be an example to others and, in the process, let us win over those who today support Donald Trump. Let us follow that old adage, “Keep hope alive!”

Let respect, kindness and hope flourish.

See you at the rally!

Solidarity March

 Are you as disturbed as we are by Donald Trump’s appointees and the agenda they are promoting? We sincerely hope you will join us in the weeks and months ahead in taking a stand to oppose their actions.

There will be numerous ways to do this as we move forward, but, to demonstrate, right from the start, our deeply held concerns, we invite you to join Peaceworks and at least 20 co-sponsoring groups in a Solidarity March and Rally that will be held on Saturday, January 21, on the same day as, and in solidarity with, the Women’s March on Washington.

Together we will take a stand to support social and economic justice, public health and safety, inclusion, climate and the environment, peace and our very democracy. Over the coming months we will be working hard to reach out to our neighbors to build as broad a consensus as possible in opposition to an unprecedented assault on virtually everything we cherish and have fought hard for many decades to attain. Our approach will be respectful, but unapologetically in opposition to the direction that the Trump administration and their Congressional allies aim to take us.

Please plan to join us for the Solidarity March and Rally on Saturday, Jan. 21. We will gather between 1-1:30 p.m. at Courthouse Plaza, march to Stephens College and hold an indoor rally featuring speakers, music, tabling and more there.

You can find the details (as well as RSVP and invite others) via the Facebook event if you click HERE.

There will also be a Rally: Inaugurating Resistance to the Trump Agenda. 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20, at Traditions Plaza (between the Law School and the Alumni Center on Conley Ave.) on the MU Campus. We encourage those who can make it out Friday to join us for this as well.

The list of co-sponsoring groups to date includes: Columbia Area NOW; Columbia Climate Change Coalition; Mid-Missouri Fellowship of Reconciliation; Mid-Missouri Peaceworks; Mid-Missourians for Justice in Palestine; Missouri NOW; MDP Women’s Caucus; Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, Columbia Chapter; Mizzou Energy Action Coalition; Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense; Native American Support Group; NextGen Climate; OneMic; Osage Group Sierra Club; Our Revolution, Mid-Missouri; Planned Parenthood Great Plains; Protectors of Water and Land-Columbia, MO; Race Matters, Friends; Renew Missouri; Social Action Team of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbia; Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Mid-Missouri.