in general, is deeply disturbing. Random, senseless violence—taking the lives
of innocents—is particularly troubling. Events in Paris, in which 129 people were
murdered, therefore, have ricocheted wildly through our body politic, sparking
fear, revulsion and heightened Islamophobia.
seen everything from governors attempting to block even thoroughly vetted Syrian
refugees from being settled in their states, to calls for all out warfare and dramatic
increases in military spending, troop levels and more. We’ve had presidential
candidates calling for the registration of all Muslims, the closing of Mosques,
and even applying a religious test, requiring Christian identity, to qualify
for refugee status.
you’re experiencing a sinking feeling of déjà vu all over again, you are not
alone. We saw our fellow citizens stampeded into supporting disastrous wars in
both Afghanistan and Iraq in the wake of 9/11. Neither of these wars, nor the
numerous other U.S. wars in primarily Muslim nations (Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen,
Libya, Syria, etc.) have enhanced our security. In fact, they’ve served to
create far more enemies than they’ve eliminated. They’ve led to massive loss of
life, primarily non-combatant civilians. They’ve dislocated millions, while
thoroughly destabilizing one of the most geopolitically strategic and volatile
regions in the world. And they’ve been phenomenally expensive.
though the chance of dying in a domestic terror incident is infinitesimal, the
need to prevent such acts has been used as a rationale legitimating a
surveillance state that has resulted in unprecedented intrusions into every
citizen’s privacy. And incredibly, the Right simultaneously bores down on
so-called “Islamic Terrorism,” while opposing even the most modest gun safety
initiatives, so all any aspiring terrorist—be they Muslim, Christian or what
have you—seeking guns need do is visit a gun show.
the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” would not be in existence if not for the
U.S. invasion of Iraq, many on the Right blame President Obama for ISIS. They
propose major escalation of the war, including sending in ground troops. Those
with one tool, a hammer, view every situation we face, no matter how complex,
as another nail.
war will mean more death, more destruction, more fear and more enemies. Bombing
ISIS sites in Iraq and Syria has been a grand game of Whack-A-Mole, with more
“collateral damage” than actual attainment of objectives. Anyone thinking our
nation can assume the moral high ground need only consider for a moment that,
according to official documents, as reported in The Intercept, so-called “targeted killing” by drones in
Afghanistan ends up killing people other than the intended target nearly 90
percent of the time.
might assert that “terrorists” intend to killing innocents, while the U.S. CIA
and military end up doing so accidentally. The distinction loses much of its
meaning, however, when U.S. officials know that their actions are regularly
killing non-combatants, including women, children and the elderly, yet they
continue to drop bombs from on high. While images of the victims of terror
attacks in Paris are more readily seen, those dying in places like Yemen,
Somalia or Pakistan are no less dead, and their loved ones no less bereft.
Americans want a peaceful future. What we need to recognize is that
exterminating an enemy is not a path to peace. Belligerence toward Muslims is
certainly not an answer. The vast majority of Muslims are peaceful, kind and
caring humans who, in my experience, are hospitable and welcoming. While there
are violent extremists, the same is true for Christians, Jews, Hindus, etc.
When we demonize Islam, and when our government intervenes in Muslim counties,
we drive recruits to the jihadis.
have a choice. Extend and expand the permanent war and the Military-Industrial
Complex will thrive, while millions suffer the agony and dislocation of war.
End the pursuit of geopolitical domination and pursue instead a ratcheting down
of conflict through negotiations, arms embargos and sustainable development
programs, and we will have a chance at a peaceful future.
consider that the Syrian conflict would never have reached the point we’re at
today, were it not for the U.S. insistence, back in 2012, to exclude the
Iranians from negotiations and to make the exit of Assad an à priori condition
for talks. Let’s learn from these mistakes and pursue peace rather than power.
part of manifesting peace is creating a vibrant peace economy at home. Looking
at our current political reality, perhaps the greatest irony we face is that
those most eager to see more money and resources devoted to weapons, militarism
and making war, are also those likely most reluctant to adequately fund
investments in real security.
Security includes protecting our climate and the balances of nature that make
planet Earth habitable. The biggest cheerleaders for war also generally oppose
investing in people, providing livable wages to all workers, making quality
education freely available to all, assuring healthcare for everyone, etc. They
obviously do not recognize that a clean, sustainable environment and a strong,
healthy and well educated population are our greatest strengths. If we prudently
invest the funds saved by turning away from war, we can address serious threats
to our security, and this will be a true win-win. This post was written by Peaceworks Director Mark Haim.
we prepare for the 2015 Sustainable Living Fair, which is coming up Saturday,
Oct. 17, some wonder: Do individual actions really matter? Does it really make
a rat’s ass worth of difference, in a world of more than seven billion
people—one that appears to be going to hell in a hand-basket—if we recycle,
compost, ride a bike or plant a garden?
simple answer is “yes, it does.” The combined impact of humanity is the sum of
all of our actions. Insulating and weatherizing your house will reduce your
demand for energy to heat and cool, and this, besides saving you money, means
just a little bit less in the way of greenhouse gases and other environmental
pollution. By itself, it’s not “the solution,” but it is a baby step in that
direction. If just one person does this, the impact is tiny, to be sure, but if
a million Missouri homes took such action . . . . there is a cumulative effect.
of course, begs the question: how do we get a million Missouri homeowners or
landlords to take such action? Or, how do we get folks to go solar? And the
answer to this is neither clear nor simple. You might come to the SLF, find out
about solar photovoltaics, hook up with a vendor and get solar panels
installed. Or you might arrange an energy audit and then invest in tightening
up your building envelope. The chain of decision making is in your hands and
the actions yield definite, albeit limited, results. Each of us has the most
control and say-so over our own choices and actions.
others to take such action, however, is more challenging. It can come through
public education, but, more often than not, it comes through changes in public
policy. This can include prescriptive or proscriptive laws and codes. It also
can include offering financial incentives, including tax credits and rebates.
here at Peaceworks, along with our allies, continue to work for these, but our
ability to influence the process is limited, particularly when majorities in
legislatures at the state and federal levels are generally bought and paid for
by the fossil fuel industry. They are lukewarm at best on renewables and energy
efficiency, the two keys to a sustainable future.
to actually achieve public policy changes, it is imperative that we forge a
mass movement. Such movements are a necessary ingredient in almost all social
change and especially in making changes that challenge the power and
perquisites of those who are profiting from current arrangements.
mass movements are only truly effective if its participants’ means are consistent
with their ends. A movement for climate justice led by hyper-consumptive
jet-setters living in McMansions and driving everywhere in gas-guzzling SUVs
isn’t going to win over many people.
we must heed Gandhi’s call to “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” We must
recognize the potential for each of us to serve as an example to others. If you
plant a big, organic garden and have lots of great produce, your neighbors
likely take notice. If they see you peddling off to work or school, it might
get them thinking. And, if another neighbor joins you in one of these
activities, it’s no longer just that one kooky granola, but rather something
that’s catching on; something that maybe, just maybe, they should consider
becoming a part of.
as the October 17 Sustainable Living Fair approaches, our invitation is out
there. We need you to be part of the solution. We’re talking about being an
active part of a movement that calls for a radical (that is “to the root”)
rethinking and restructuring of our economic system and our very way of life.
We’re asking you to participate in an active fashion, both in the more
“political” aspects of this process—that is education and advocacy—as well as “walking
the talk” by adopting more sustainable ways in your own life.
summary, sustainable living is necessary, but not sufficient. It’s an important
part of what we need to be doing. We encourage you to join us, learn more,
apply the lessons as you can to green-up your lifestyle, and then take it to
the next level by helping build a movement that can redefine our system. In the
process, working together, hopefully we will prevent the more catastrophic
impacts of runaway climate change and, in the long run, help restore planetary
balance. It’s up to all of us.
Want to help with the SLF? We are looking for volunteers. Contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org by calling 573-875-0539.
You also can help invite others via our SLF Facebook event if you clickHERE, and you can find the SLF website if you clickHERE.
Peaceworks and our Allies in a Climate Walk, Sunday, Sept. 20. Join with your
neighbors to call attention to the urgent need for immediate action.
Francis is coming to the U.S. More specifically, he is going to be addressing a
joint session of Congress on Thursday, Sept. 24. In his encyclical, Laudato Si, the Pope has taken as clear
a stance as possible regarding the moral imperative to take action now to
address the climate crisis. He has called for recognition of the impact of our
actions on future generations and on the poor and the marginalized, who are
being most directly impacted today.
has the potential to be a transformative moment. Those who’ve clung to denial
for so long are now facing both an overwhelming scientific consensus and a call
to moral action from religious and spiritual leaders from many traditions,
including now the Catholic Church, the largest single religious institution in
organizations, including Peaceworks, which has been a voice for climate action
for decades, are heartened by the Pope’s stand, and we’d like to do all we can
to assure that his message is heard as widely as possible. On Sunday, Sept. 20,
therefore, we are holding a Climate Walk that we hope will bring together
hundreds of mid-Missourians. This highly visible 5K (~3 miles) Walk will focus
community attention on the climate just before the Pope arrives. Being visible
we can amplify Pope Francis’ message and bring it home to our neighbors and
Walk is an awareness raiser. It’s also a fundraiser to help fund Peaceworks’ climate
action advocacy and education efforts. Getting pledges and/or making a
contribution yourself is encouraged, but optional. We hope you will participate
in whatever ways work for you and help make this the largest, most impactful
climate demonstration yet in our area.
more info and a sponsor sheet click HERE. To access the Climate Walk Facebook
event click HERE. Please share this
info. Invite friends. Participate!
This event is organized by Peaceworks and co-sponsored by Osage Group Sierra Club, Mizzou Energy Action Coalition and Renew Missouri.