Working towards peace and sustainability

Vote! Vote! Vote!

Front and Center: The upcoming election is extremely important and we hope all Peaceworks members and supporters who are eligible will be sure to vote, and will encourage friends, family and others to turn out as well. We also encourage members and supporters to consider volunteering to support candidates, as active participation in the electoral process is the only real antidote to the domination of politics by money.

Some people say voting is the most important thing we do in the political realm. Without diminishing its importance, we’d like to suggest that it’s the bare minimum we can do; something that every eligible voter can and should do, in addition to other forms of activism, both electoral and issue-oriented. Put another way, voting is to political engagement as recycling is to sustainable living; something necessary, but not sufficient.

In most cases, voting just takes a few minutes out of a day, perhaps two or three times a year. So we hope that, come November 6, you will turn out and exercise your franchise. (And, if you will be away, or otherwise unable to go to your polling place on that day, that you will get and file an absentee ballot.)

Peaceworks is an educational non-profit. This means we do not endorse, support or oppose candidates for office. We encourage active citizenship, which of course includes voting. We urge voters to become informed as to where the candidates stand on the critical issues of the day, including climate change, justice concerns and war and peace, the latter particularly regarding candidates for federal office.

Ballot Questions

While we don’t take positions on candidates, we can, and do, on occasion, endorse ballot issues, which are essentially legislation. This year we are supporting yes votes on three ballot issues:

Amendment #1:  The “Clean Missouri” amendment is a package of what could be called “good government reforms,” all of which sound to us like steps in the right direction. These include:

  Establishing a new method for legislative redistricting that reduces the ability for politicians from the majority party to unfairly gerrymander districts;
  Setting campaign donation limits for candidates to the Missouri House and Senate;
  Sharply limiting gifts to legislators, allowing only trivial gifts;
   Opening to public scrutiny public records and proceedings;
   Reducing “revolving door” politics by prohibiting legislators or legislative employees from going directly into paid lobbyist positions; and
  Prohibiting political fundraising on state property.

To learn more about Amendment #1 click HERE.  

Medical Marijuana: Peaceworks supports the legalization of medical marijuana. There are many ways patients can benefit from cannabis. It is far safer than many drugs—both prescription and otherwise—that are used to treat various conditions for which cannabis is effective. It is time, therefore, for Missouri to join the more than 30 states around the nation that have legalized.

How to vote on medical marijuana in Missouri, this year, is somewhat confusing, as there were three separate medical marijuana initiative campaigns this year and all three qualified for the ballot. Let’s break this down. First of all, there are two constitutional amendments and one statutory proposition. The amendments have the advantage of not being subject to repeal or alteration by the state legislature, and can only be changed by a future vote of the citizens.

Amendment #2: Peaceworks is supporting and urging a “yes” vote on Amendment #2, which has been put together by a coalition of patients, healthcare providers and grassroots citizen advocacy groups. The campaign organization goes by “New Approach Missouri” and it provides a very reasonable framework for legalization, including a fairly low tax (4%) and provisions that allow patients to grow their own in limited quantities. The amendment provides a common sense framework for overseeing the process of production and distribution. Details available by clicking HERE.

Amendment #3, the Bradshaw Amendment: This proposal, on the other hand, is anything but common sense-based. It is the project of one man, Brad Bradshaw a personal injury lawyer and physician, who has funded the campaign virtually single-handedly. If this amendment passes, it would allow the sale of medical marijuana, but not personal cultivation. It would put a higher (15%) tax on retail sales.

The revenue from this tax would fund a “Biomedical Research and Drug Development Institute” of which Bradshaw would be made chairman. He would also appoint all the members of the board of directors for the Institute. Bradshaw expects an annual income of approximately $66 million, and decisions as to how these funds are spent would be in the hands of Bradshaw and his handpicked board. Bradshaw also sued in failed attempts to get both Amendment #2 and Proposition C removed from the ballot.

The choice between these two is clear cut and this has been widely recognized including in this St. Louis Post Dispatch editorial. Click HERE.

It’s important, before voting, to be aware of the process. Specifically, if both Amendment #2 and Amendment #3 pass, the one receiving the larger number of votes is the one that will be enacted. For this reason we urge voters to vote yes on #2 and no on #3

Proposition C:  The third medical cannabis ballot issue is Prop. C. It is a statute (law) and thus would only go into effect if both amendments failed, but it passed. Peaceworks did not take a position on this proposition. We have heard that some are voting “yes” on C as insurance, in case the dueling amendments split the pro-legalization vote. There certainly is some logic to this position.

But our primary message remains: “Yes” on Two, “No” on Three.

Proposition B: If passed, the “Raise Up Missouri” initiative would increase the minimum page in the state from its current level of $7.75 by 85 cents a year until 2023 when it would reach $12 an hour. Adjusting for inflation, the minimum wage has decreased dramatically over the past four decades. Anyone working full time should be earning a living wage and passage of Prop. B would be a step in that direction.

This measure isn’t perfect. It is statutory, rather than a constitutional amendment, which means the legislature could tinker with it, and some think $12 an hour is not enough. But we can’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Passing this would be good for Missouri’s working poor, and therefore for all of us. For more info on Prop. B click HERE.

For more information on these ballot issues as well as on candidates for office, we encourage you to check out the Voters’ Guide published by the nonpartisan League of Women Voters. It’s available on-line by clicking HERE. 

See you at the polls come Election Day!

Time to Step Out for the Climate: Why We Are Walking 5K on Sept. 16.

Picture this:  You see an infant out in the street, with a truck just a block away headed straight for her. Your impulse is to run out in the road and scoop the baby up. A crowd of people looking down from an overhead bridge urges you on, but one naysayer hollers out, “She’ll be OK, just leave her there.”

What do you do?

Well, the answer is obvious, isn’t it? Or at least it should be.

Sad reality is that we see an actual disaster—an existential threat—Climate Catastrophe, looming larger every day. Yet those making the rules in our nation’s seat of power, Washington, DC, are not just saying, “Don’t worry, we can ignore this.” Rather they are actively dismantling the inadequate, but somewhat helpful, steps taken toward the end of the Obama administration.

Our question for you:  Are you going to sit on the sidelines, or are you going to step out to take action commensurate with the urgency of dealing with the Climate Crisis?

Walk for the Climate on September 16

Walk 5 kilometers? Why bother? Does it really do any good? Aren’t there more important things to do?

These are all good and valid questions, and we, here at Peaceworks, are happy to share our answers.

First, for those who haven’t heard, Peaceworks is holding our fourth annual 5K Walk for the Climate on the afternoon of Sunday, Sept. 16. We’ll be gathering starting at 1 p.m. at Courthouse Plaza, and kicking things off with music by Band of Brothers followed by a short rally. All Boone County area candidates for legislative seats—state and federal—have been invited to participate in a Candidate Open Mic to share their views on climate change.

We then will walk as a group, carrying signs and banners, through downtown CoMo and the MU campus. The walk is 5K, which is approximately three miles.

Why Walk?  This is a visibility event, not a race. Its primary purpose is putting the Climate Crisis front and center and insisting that we move forward as quickly as possible to address this immanent threat. The more of us who turn out to rally, to hear the candidates and to walk, the more attention we will bring to bear.

We have all observed the melting polar ice; the unprecedented fires; the rising seas; the increasing frequency of extreme weather events including super-storms, floods, droughts, heat waves and more. We know that what we’re seeing is exactly what the climate scientists have predicted for decades and that things are going to get worse.

Prompt action, however, holds the potential for avoiding some of the worst consequences of climate change. But this requires responding ASAP, which, in turn, will only happen if politicians decide that they can’t afford to ignore climate change any longer.

Even though addressing climate change is arguably the most significant issue facing humanity this century, the media mainly treats the climate as a third tier issue. And most politicians tend to ignore it unless we hold their feet to the fire.

That’s why we need YOU to join us on September 16; rally with us to demonstrate broad support for prompt and effective climate action.

Does a Climate Walk Really do any Good?  Events like this help in several ways:

First of all, elected officials and candidates are invited to the event. Those who don’t attend will hopefully hear about it through the media. Either way, they will know there are concerned citizens speaking out.

Likewise many of our fellow citizens will either see our event firsthand or will catch it on the news. They, too, will likely recognize that something is up, and perhaps start asking questions or speaking out themselves

And those who participate will be buoyed by the sense of solidarity that we feel when we come together with likeminded folks around a shared objective. Participating, we breakout of our sense of isolation and recognize we are not alone in caring for the Earth and grieving for the fate of future generations.

Finally, each of these impacts is magnified if our numbers are larger. Should you choose to participate you not only have an impact yourself, but you amplify the impact of others who have come out for the rally and the walk. And, by the way, if you are not able to walk the 5K route we encourage you to come to the rally. Then, if you can walk part of the route, that would be great, and, if you can’t, being part of the rally is most appreciated.

Is this a Walkathon? Those who choose to are invited to also help us raise money for our climate advocacy work, but the fundraising piece is optional. If you’d like a sponsor sheet, you can CLICK HERE to access one. Peaceworks does need funding support and your support is most welcome, but, again, this is not the main purpose of this event. There are free T-shirts and prizes. Details on this are on the sponsor sheet.

For More Info:  We really hope you’ll join us on Sept. 16. If you plan to attend or want more info and are on Facebook you can find our FB event if you CLICK HERE. You can also use the event to invite your friends. You can also call us at the Peace Nook at 573-875-0539 or e-mail us at mail@midmopeaceworks.org. Together, we can make this one powerful event advocating for climate sanity. Please be part of it and help us build it. The future is in our hands. Let’s not blow it.

There’s Also an Informational Seminar: In addition to the Climate Walk on Sept. 16, there will also be an informational seminar on Climate, Jobs and Justice taking place from 1-5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8, in conjunction with Rise for Climate events around the country. Peaceworks is joining our climate allies in co-sponsoring this event. We encourage you to attend both. Come learn on Sept. 8 and come demonstrate on Sept. 16. Details on Facebook at CLICK HERE, or give us a shout. 

The Current Moment—Addressing the Challenges

The state of our body politic is distressed, at best, and it’s enough to turn many off from any sort of participation. This is a trap and represents a grave danger, as our engagement is needed now, more than ever.

Each day the news virtually assaults us. We have government of, by and for the billionaires, headed up by a prevaricating, narcissist autocrat who is stacking the courts, constantly attacking the free press and dismantling every program actually worthy of our tax dollars. The outrages are so constant as to leave many numb, and therein lies the danger. 

Many progressives are hanging their hopes on the Mueller probe, but this is risky at best. We, at Peaceworks, support following the investigation through, fully pursuing all wrongdoing done by or during the campaign, as well as any obstruction of justice since. But, however this turns out, it will not solve our problems. First of all, it is unclear that Trump would be either charged or impeached. But, even if he was forced from office, we would still have an extremist in the White House and literally dozens of battles on our hands, fighting a retrograde agenda.

Among our many battles are:

● Ending climate change denial and the rollback of the modest progress that had been made.

● Stopping the many other attacks on clean air, clean water, workplace safety, consumer protection and more.

● Rolling back the massive increase in military spending, as well as addressing destabilizing foreign policy directions, including the abandonment of the Iran Nuclear Deal.

● Addressing the attacks on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, SNAP and other critical programs, along with challenging massive handouts to the wealthy.

● Dealing with the hateful, divisive attacks that are creating an atmosphere of fear and loathing.

As disturbing as it is to have an overt racist, xenophobic misogynist in the highest office in the land, it is even more troubling to us to know that at least one-third of our fellow citizens support this pseudo-populist hate monger.

We urgently need to figure out how to best apply the brakes to the Trump juggernaut and, to woo those who’ve been drawn in by his anti-establishment rhetoric, by offering a true progressive populist agenda that actually would bring social and economic justice as well as environmental sanity and peace.

There is no simple answer to our dilemma. But please consider:

● We need everyone eligible to be informed and voting. While Peaceworks does not endorse, support or oppose candidates, we recognize the importance of electoral activism.

● We need, as individuals, to re-engage. There is essential work to be done on critical issues. We need to be effective, vocal advocates addressing these issues.

● We need you to get involved—with Peaceworks, we would hope—or with whatever progressive groups you feel most drawn to.

● Our organizations must collaborate and support each other. Our approach needs to be intersectional. That’s why we’ve been working as an active part of the Solidarity Network.

● While we must take a stand against all we disagree with, it is at least as important that we articulate positive solutions to climate change, militarism, injustice, etc. As Naomi Klein informs us, “No Is Not Enough.” We must inspire a broad swath of our fellow citizens with a solution-driven agenda that offers up hope.

● Most of all, at this critical juncture, we must turn to each other for mutual support, stay hopeful, build community, and recognize the necessity of this work. We’re in it for the long-haul and hope you are too.

Lights of Hope in Our Peace Lanterns

On August 4, 2018 peace-loving mid-Missourians will gather, as they’ve done annually for the past 31 years, to share in making a statement of hope for the future. In a world of Realpolitik, perpetual wars and militarism, some might see this as a pointless gesture. Others, aware of the power of intention, see it otherwise, and thus we persist, coming together each year to renew a shared commitment.

When those who’ve not previously participated hear of a “Hiroshima-Nagasaki Memorial Peace Gathering,” they often, understandably, think that we are gathering primarily to remember those who died in the atomic bombing of these two cities in 1945.

Of course, remembering the hundreds of thousands of innocent people who lost their lives in these horrific bombings is one part of why we gather. Our primary reason for gathering, however, is looking forward, not back, and aiming to mobilize pressure in the present to co-create a future free of the threat of nuclear annihilation.

Nuclear weapons are one of two human-created, existential threats; the other being climate change. The intention of the United States and the other eight nuclear-armed nations to maintain their arsenals in perpetuity, serves to legitimate the pursuit of these hellishly destructive devices. More fingers on the button means the use of these weapons is more likely. And our own government’s commitment to a phenomenally expensive, so-called “modernization” only spurs new arms races with the Russians and the Chinese, again, making us less safe.

And, when we gather, while we address the need for mutual, verifiable, incremental and universal nuclear disarmament, we also always tie together our concerns regarding nukes with broader concerns: ending the permanent war and the power of the Military-Industrial Complex, pursuing social and economic justice and addressing the very real threats of climate change and environmental unsustainability.
Participants decorate lanterns in preparation for the lantern float.
This annual gathering is in some ways a ritual, a coming together of a community. We break bread; sharing food potluck style. We listen to music, speakers and poets. Most symbolically we decorate commemorative lanterns, and, when it gets dark we light candles in the lanterns and float them on the lake. In the Japanese tradition the candle-boats each carry the soul of someone whose life has passed.

To us, however, the lights have an additional meaning. The tiny candle flame symbolizes hope; our hope for peace and a nuclear-free future. It’s another expression of the notion, “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.” Each of us creates a lantern and they are sent out on the water as a group, symbolizing our shared hopes and prayers. Ultimately, our August Peace Gathering is an opportunity for the community to come together and embrace hope; hope for a future in which we finally get our priorities straight, a future that works for all of us.

We hope you will join us.  For more info, please CLICK HERE.

Serving line for the potluck.
Eating and visiting.
Peace educator and activist Bill Wickersham addresses the crowd.